(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Dear Faustina"







p T5^^\3!K>7v,tf5(^v^zlR 






^ 



m? 




Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive 

in 2008 witii funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 



littp://www.arcliive.org/details/dearfaustinaOObrouricli 



DEAR FAUSTINA 



DEAR FAUSTINA 



BY 

RHODA BROUGHTON 

AUTHOR OF 'good-bye, SWEETHEART !' ' NANCY,' ETC. 




LONDON 

RICHARD BENTLEY AND SON 

^uhii&hexsi in (JDrbtnaria to "^zx ^aj^stg tht (S^mtn 

1897 

[A// rights reservedl 



65^ 


3 


D4 


tl 


\Z<^1 . 





DEAR FAUSTINA 



CHAPTER I. 

' Tears /' 

The accent with which this monosyllable 
is uttered, though tempered with leniency, is 
undoubtedly one of reproach. The person 
to whom it is addressed recognizes it as such, 
and, though it has not at once a quite drying 
effect upon her, yet it is in a voice of indis- 
tinct apology that she proffers her excuse. 

' I do not think I am much of a cryer ; 
you have never seen me cry before.' 

' Why do I see you cry now ?' 

The reproacher and reproached are both 

I 



DEAR FAUSTINA 



feminine, the superiority in years lying with 
the former, in comeliness with the latter. 

* Is not it allowable, or at least excusable, 
at such a crisis in my life ?' 

But her tone is deferential, and her moist 
square of cambric — she has very nice pocket- 
handkerchiefs — slides back into her pocket. 

' I could not bear you to spoil your eyes 
by crying, even if there were cause ; and 
there is none.' 

The elder girl has sat down by her young 
friend, and is speaking in that tone of pas- 
sionate caressingness which used to belong 
to Love, but which female friendship has 
lately stolen from his quiver. 

' It is very dear of you to mind about my 
eyes ' — gratefully. 

'As Mme. de Sevigne said to Mme. de 
Grignan *'Jai mal a votre poitrine," so I 
can say, •' J'ai mal a vos yeux." ' 

'Thank you very much.' 

'And you are dimming and reddening 



DEAR FAUSTINA 



them ' — with a fond inspection — ' for abso- 
lutely no reason.' 

' Ah, there we must differ/ 

* In my opinion, so far from having cause 
for tears, you have every reason for doing 
the other thing.' 

' For laughing ?' 

*Yes.' 

' For laughing because my dear, kind old 
father is dead ?' 

' The edge of that loss is blunted by six 
months. You are not crying for him.' 

' Because my home is broken up, then ?' 
Because I see my sister drifting away from 
me ? Because my future is chaotic ? No, 
dear Faustina ' — wiping furtively away one 
more water-drop — ' it is only your loving 
wish to comfort me that could make you 
support such a paradox.' 

' I would perjure myself pretty freely with 
that object, I own ; but in this case there is 
no need — the break-up of your home is in- 



DEAR FAUSTINA 



dispensable to your mental development. 
As long as your father's rdgime lasted you 
were like an oak in a flower-pot ; sooner or 
later the pot must have cracked.' 

Althea — for that is her name — shakes her 
head. 

' He had the limitations, and perhaps a 
few of the prejudices, of his date ; but ' — her 
voice slightly quivering — ' I was very, very 
happy with him.' 

At the small break in her speech, indi- 
cating the depth and sincerity of her regret 
for the departed Philistine, Faustina feelingly 
presses her hand, and deems it judicious to 
pass on to a branch of the subject on which 
she may feel herself on firmer ground. 

' As to your sister drifting away from you, 
it was in the nature of things that she should. 
"Can two walk together, except they be 
agreed ?" as your fine old Book says.' 

It is needless to state that Miss Faustina is 
an Agnostic, but, considerable as are the 



DEAR FAUSTINA 



Strides made under her auspices by her pupil 
in the new path, she can never hear without a 
wince her Mentor's condescending patronage, 
* as an interesting collection of archaic literary 
documents,' of the Holy Scriptures. 

' We used to aoree as well as most sisters 
in the old days,' she rejoins regretfully. 
' Since my father's death — since Clare's en- 
gagement — subjects of difference seem to 
have sprung up between us. There are 
some topics on which there is no use pre- 
tending that we think alike.' 

' Your humble servant, for instance ?' — with 
a smile. 

Althea's silence may perhaps be taken for 
an assent to this query, or perhaps may be 
due merely to the preoccupation with which 
her own memory is pursuing the history of 
the family dissensions. 

' Though we were not alike in our natures, 
we were very much at one in many of our 
opinions, in our complete want of sympathy 



DEAR FAUSTINA 



with all my mother's methods, in our indig- 
nation at the way in which she tried to ride 
roughshod over my father's wishes.' 
' She did not succeed ' — rather dryly. 

* No, because his nature was too strong 
a one ; but now that the check of his firm 
hand is removed, I dread to think what eccen- 
tricities she may run into !' 

She breaks off as if the subject were too 
painful a one to bear further pursuing. 

There is a silence. 

' We agreed so perfectly in our dislike of 
the type of mother's friends — I mean Clare 
and I did. It seems incredible now, but 
how I dreaded ^6>/^r coming !' 

Faustina smiles. 

' It did not require a conjurer to discover 
that. No, darling, do not look pained ; I 
intended no reproach ; and we have changed 
all that ' — with a hand-pressure. 

* It seems so ungrateful, looking back, to 
think how I disliked you all through that 



DEAR FAUSTINA 



first visit ; how I misjudged your views, and 
disbelieved in your aspirations, and hated 
your short hair parted on one side. Even 
now' — hesitatingly — 'I rather regret that 
your example induced mother to adopt the 
same style of hairdressing.' 

* It may have been my example ; it cer- 
tainly was not my precept.' 

' If it had not been for my father's death, 
and your extraordinary and most unex- 
pected sympathy and kindness to me at the 
time and afterwards, I dare say we might 
never have been drawn together. Oh, but 
you we7^e kind !' — her eyes filling. 

' There is no question of kindness where 
one loves.' 

A short pause. 

' If there were anything settled as to my 
future,' resumes the younger girl presently, 
* whatever it might be, I hope I should be 
able to make up my mind to it ; but though 
it is six months since dear father's death, 



DEAR FAUSTINA 



mother has as yet given no indication of 
what plans she has formed for us.' 

' No indication ?' — lifting her eyebrows. 

* Well, no doubt that is the wrong word to 
use ; of course, one can see in what direction 
her bent lies. But I do not quite under- 
stand how that is to be combined with form- 
ing a home for her children.' 

' Perhaps that does not enter into her 
scheme.' 

' Do you mean ' — her eyes opening wide, 
as if this idea, presented for the first time, 
had something scaring in it — ' that she means 
to turn us adrift ?' 

* You are all pretty well full-fledged ; I see 
no great kindness in keeping well - grown 
young birds in a nest too small for them.' 

Then, as the novelty of the idea, too new 
as yet to take any of the pleasant colouring 
conveyed by her friend's tone, keeps Althea 
silent, she goes on : 

•Clara has turned, or is turning, herself 



DEAR FAUSTINA 



out. Your brothers, with their embryo pro- 
fessions, are hovering on the very edge. 
Fanny, though her wing- feathers may not be 
quite grown, will very soon be fit to fly.' 

' Fanny is only seventeen.' 

' Oh, there is no cause of fear for Fanny,' 
with vague indifference. 

'And I — I am certainly quite full-fledged, 
but I should be glad to have some idea ' — with 
a slight return of unsteadiness in the voice — 
' in what direction my first flight is to be made.' 

' Can you have any doubt upon that head ?' 

That some affectionate reproach is meant 
to be conveyed by the question is plain from 
the speaker's manner, but Althea is too pre- 
occupied to observe it. 

' I think that mother must have made up 
her mind — must have some proposal to make 
to us, or some ultimatum to convey — by the 
gravity with which she asked us all to meet 
her in the library at four o'clock.' 

' It is nearly that now, isn't it ?' 



lo DEAR FAUSTINA 

' I can't tell you with what vague and yet 
strong dread I look forward to her announce- 
ment. I have tried to face every possible 
contingency, and yet ' She breaks off. 

* Tell me ' — with lenient indulgence, as to a 
sick child — * a few of the bugbears you have 
conjured up. I am not at all afraid of not 
being able to lay them.' 

' There is not time,' with a feverish glance 
clockwards ; * and it would not be worth 
while, as we shall so soon know the worst.' 

' Still, it might ease your heart a little.' 

* Though you say that I have outgrown 
her — and perhaps in some ways I have, 
thanks to you ' — gratefully — ' yet I shall 
miss Clare dreadfully when we are virtually 
tHe-a-tke — mother and I ; for the boys will 
be, of course, away, and Fanny is too young 
and unformed to count much. I fear that 
the radical discrepancies between all our 
tastes and feelings will come out terribly 
strong. I do not think It can be quite our 



DEAR FAUSTINA ii 

fault, but we have none of us ever been able 
to get near mother.' 

' She ought never to have married,' replies 
Faustina gravely ; ' that was the root-mistake 
of her life, as it has been of so many millions 
of other women. Now that she has regained 
the use of her wings — my dear, do not look 
hurt ; I am only putting the state of the case 
before you from Aer point of view — it remains 
to be seen to what point of the compass she 
will fly.' 

' And shall I have to fly with her ?' rejoins 
Althea, with a disconsolate intonation. 'Ah, 
there is the clock striking ! Do not let us 
be a minute late !' — seizing the hand of her 
friend and pulling her towards the door. 

As they hurry down the stairs, Faustina 
Bateson and Miss Althea Vane meet the 
other members of the latter's family, all with 
equal haste converging to the rendezvous. 
Apparently all are as anxious as herself to 
learn their destiny. Of the two boys who, 



DEAR FAUSTINA 



with the superior speed of longer legs, pass 
them on an upper landing, one goes by them 
without notice. The other, and younger, 
essays a trifling schoolboy pinch on his 
sister. Of the two girls, who also emerge 
from upper chambers, the taller and maturer 
half holds out her hand, as if encouragingly, 
to Althea, but, seeing her fingers already 
possessed by Faustina, drops it quickly. 

As they reach the door of the library 
Faustina pauses. 

' Had not I better leave you here, darling } 
This is a purely family matter' — offering to 
loosen her clasp. 

' No, oh no ; come with me ! I shall want 
you to give me courage.' 

They follow the others, already seating 
themselves on chairs set in a row as if for 
family prayers, though Mrs. Vane would 
have scorned the simile. The library is a 
good-sized room — for London a large one — 
dark with the books that climb the walls to 



DEAR FAUSTINA 13 

the celling, with the dusk of the eighteenth 
century wainscot and doors, and with the 
habitual sombreness of a back look-out. The 
books are for the most part old — obviously 
the accumulations of respectable generations 
— but the litter that covers the largre writino- 
table is as obviously new : reports, schedules, 
books of reference, type-written letters, 
Socialist journals. At this table is seated a 
lady, who, as soon as her ear tells her by the 
cessation of any rustling or footsteps that her 
audience are arrived, and awaiting her, rises, 
and, turning slowly round, faces them. Were 
it not for a slight condescension in the matter 
of petticoats, it would not be obvious to a 
stranger that it is not a slender man who is 
preparing to address the little group, so 
austerely masculine is the just-gray-touched 
thick short hair parted on one side, the coat, 
the tie, the waistcoat. This widow might at 
a pinch, and behind a table which would 
conceal the degradation of the female skirt, 



14 DEAR FAUSTINA 

well pass for a little widower. She stands 
for a second silent, not collecting herself, or 
seeking womanly words or modes of ex- 
pression, since, when it does come, her speech 
flows with perfect round fluency, but calmly 
eyeing the row of young people before her. 
Her hands are lightly clasped in front of her ; 
nor does she need to eke out her easy oratory 
by any of the awkward and anguished 
gestures with which the ordinary Anglo- 
Saxon, when forced on to his unwilling legs, 
tries to ease the birth-pangs of his still-born 
fancy. Still quietly meeting her hearers' 
anxious eyes with her own cool, steely-gray 
ones, she begins : 

' I have asked you to meet me here to-day 
because I thought it simpler to tell you all 
collectively what otherwise I should have to 
communicate to each separately. This day 
is a day of crisis in all our lives.' She pauses 
a moment ; evidently from no difficulty In 
proceeding, but with a calculated intention 



DEAR FAUSTINA 15 



of letting these few preparatory words have 
time to sink into the soil of her hearers' 
minds. ' You have known — dimly, perhaps, 
and vaguely, for I have never explained 
them categorically to you, knowing with 
what an absolute want of sympathy they 
would have been met — the aims and 
aspirations of my life, and how entirely 
they have hitherto been frustrated by ' — a 
slight and telling hiatus — ' circumstances.' 
Althea has put up her handkerchief to her 
mouth. A sob is rising in her throat at this, 
to all her children, very apparent allusion to 
their father. ' The time is now come when 
I am at liberty to obey the call which has 
for many years been ringing in my ears !' 
Another effective pause. ' To some of you, 
perhaps ' — her eye rests for an instant doubt- 
fully on Althea — ' may have come a glimmer 
of comprehension of what my enforced disre- 
garding of that call has cost me, but on this 
branch of the subject it is needless to dwell. 



1 6 DEAR FAUSTINA 

I have only briefly to Indicate to you my 
scheme for the future.' A tiny rustle of ex- 
pectation, a caught-in breath, tell with what 
eager attention the little audience is listening. 
'It is probably unknown to you all ' — an 
irrepressible, though very slight and governed, 
intonation, as of contempt — 'that within the 
last few months a band of women thinkers 
and workers has collected together, and 
formed itself into a society, whose object 
and aim Is " the redressing of the balance," 
the balance as between man and woman, as 
between rich and poor, as between the 
treader-down and the trodden.' She is not 
looking at her children now, but out into the 
unseen future of battle with a lightening eye. 
• You may object ' — with a calling back of 
her attention to the row of forgotten faces 
before her — ' that in such a society there is 
nothing novel ; that a hundred such have, 
within the last few years of awakening out 
of sleep, sprung into being ; and I am quite 



DEAR FAUSTINA 17 

willing to grant it. That which differentiates 
this society from all others is, firstly, that it 
applies itself, not to any one branch of the 
subject, but to the whole colossal body of it, 
to the redressing of the balance as between 
every wronger and every wronged, in each 
stratum of society, in each nationality, and in 
every quarter of the globe ; and, secondly 
— which is perhaps a necessary corollary — 
that it demands, and will take nothing less, 
the whole being, the entire life, with no 
reservations — the soul, body, heart, and 
energies of each of its members. I — and it 
is with a deep sense of pride, and a trembling- 
consciousness of the responsibility attached 
to so great an office, that I make the state- 
ment — have been offered the presidency of 
this society.' 

She stops, not because her theme or 
her breath is exhausted, but as if to give 
time and opportunity for any challenge of, 
or objection to, her purpose that may be 



i8 DEAR FAUSTINA 

offered. None such comes. It is received 
in total silence — without even the faint ex- 
pectant rusde that had accompanied her 
opening sentences. She proceeds : 

'It must be apparent to the meanest 
capacity ' — each of the speaker's fiv(d sons 
and daughters has the impression that the 
superlative adjective is applied with a special 
sense of its fitness to him or her self — ' that 
the carrying out of such a scheme as I 
have sketched is incompatible with the 
cares and duties of family life. For those 
cares, those duties, I have never been 
endowed with any special aptitudes. Yet 
to those cares, those duties, has been already 
sacrificed what must prove far more than half 
of an existence, destined, as I think — though 
here you will probably, nay, certainly, not be in 
accord with me — to higher and broader uses.' 

Once again her lifted eye lightens, and for 
a second a well-checked yet visible emotion 
hinders her clear and ready utterance. 



DEAR FAUSTINA 19 

' During the past years many women might 
have ordered dinners and arranged social 
engagements better than I ; few — compara- 
tively few — women have, as I believe, 
ever been so penetrated with the pity of 
humanity !' 

Her voice sinks a little, weighed down 
by no counterfeit feeling, but in the next 
sentence rises again alertly, as if borne up- 
wards on glad wings. 

' The course of time, the chain of cir- 
cumstances, have enabled me at length to 
throw the reins on the neck of that pity ! 
No trammelling lesser duty any longer 
hinders me ; and since, as I have pointed 
out to you, the major part of my life has 
been, in respect to what is its main import, 
already wasted, you will readily comprehend 
that I have no time to lose. I am resolved ' 
— clasping her hands tightly together — ' to 
set sail at once upon that noble voyage 
which, but for the clogging, petty impedi- 



20 DEAR FAUSTINA 

ments of domestic life, I should have em- 
barked upon twenty-five years ago.' 

Her lips close, and her eyes meet in 
calm and determined challenge those of her 
hearers. To that challenge not one of those 
hearers rises, though it is plain that each of 
them accepts it in a different way. The elder 
son throughout the interview has kept his 
eyes resolutely fixed on the carpet, as if by 
no other method could he enough convey his 
utter disapproval of, and protest against, the 
whole proceeding. The younger is looking 
at his mother with a puzzled, schoolboy stare ; 
Clare is turning her engagement-ring round 
upon her finger, as if only by holding on 
tight to the happy fact that it symbolizes 
can she endure the painfulness of the present 
ordeal. Althea has snatched her hand from 
Faustina's strenuous clasp to hide the cruel 
quiver that is convulsing all her lower face, 
and Fanny is undisguisedly whimpering. 
Seeing that the pause which she has made 



DEAR FAUSTINA 21 

in order to give her audience an opportunity 
for question or objection is not likely to be 
used for that purpose, Mrs. Vane presently 
resumes : 

' During the years of our reciprocal rela- 
tions I have done my duty by you according 
to my lights. If I have lavished fewer 
caresses upon you than other mothers, I 
have laboured harder than most to impart 
to you that habit of mind, that mode of re- 
garding life, which are more valuable than 
any endearments. That I have failed to 
inoculate you with my ideas is due partly to 
a fundamental difference in nature between 
us, but chiefly to the existence of a strongly 
antagonistic influence entirely outweighing 
and rendering nugatory mine. That influence 
no longer exists' — a slight, decorous lower- 
ing of her voice notifies, if any such notifi- 
cation were needed, that the allusion is once 
again to her late husband — ' but its effect 
remains. I w^ould fain have led all or any of 



22 DEAR FAUSTINA 

you in the path 1 purpose to tread — the only 
path that seems to me to be really worth 
treading — but since this was not to be, our 
ways must part. The life which I have 
bound myself to lead is one that will not 
admit of a settled home. It will entail much 
moving from place to place, much public 
speaking ' — a slight writhe on the part of the 
down-faced elder son — * an entire freedom 
from the ties of family life. Those ties I 
have, as I believe, now a full right to resign. 
Three of you, Edward, Clare, and Althea, 
are of age, and therefore legally competent 
to the conduct of your own affairs. Fanny 
and Thomas are still minors, and, since your 
father died intestate, you are aware that 
their guardianship devolved on me. That 
guardianship I have determined to resign to 
their eldest brother. He, with the pro- 
fessional aid of Mr. Wills, will be able to 
arrange their future in a manner much more 
consonant to the collective wishes of their 



DEAR FAUSTINA 23 



family than I could do. I have only to add 
that I hope we shall part with reciprocal 
goodwill ' — there is, or Althea fancies it, a 
very faint human quiver in the metallic voice 
at the utterance of the wish — ' as those who 
respect each other's aims, even while unable 
to share them. I earnestly hope that you will 
all prosper in your several roads. Clare has 
chosen the beaten track, the well-worn track 
of man's hewers of wood and drawers of 
water. Althea has not yet made that elec- 
tion. Perhaps she never will ' — with a 
slender tinge of hope in the intonation. ' If 
she does not, if the progress of time, and the 
development of mind and heart that it brings, 
lead her to feel the pity of humanity more 
strongly within her than the desire for selfish, 
individual happiness, I need not say with 
what welcome we shall receive her into our 
ranks. I need not detain you any longer.' 

She bows her head slightly, and turns again 
to her loaded writing-table as they file out. 



[ 24] 



CHAPTER II. 

The young people troop up to the drawing- 
room silently together. Faustina enters it 
with them, perhaps concluding legitimately 
that Althea's invitation to support her in the 
crucial interview extends to the discussion 
that is to follow it ; perhaps guided by a 
curiosity stronger than her manners. It 
looks at first as if that curiosity were likely 
to pass unsatisfied, since for some moments 
none of the repudiated family seem capable 
of expressing, or, at all events, inclined to 
express, their opinions upon the just past 
interview. 

It is the youngest who at last breaks the 



DEAR FAUSTINA 25 

spell. Thomas, the Etonian, speaks : ' So 
she has chucked us all !' 

The elder son has been leaning his elbow 
on the mantel-piece, with his back to his 
kindred. 

' Our mother has, at all events, the merit 
of dotting her rs and crossing her^V.' 

As he speaks he wheels round, and dis- 
covers the fact, before unsuspected by him, 
of the presence of Miss Bateson. The dis- 
pleased surprise which that discovery en- 
genders in his already gloomy young eye 
must be patent enough to its object. 

But she finds it convenient not to see it, 
and sits tight until a stronger, yet gentler, 
lever dislodges her. 

'If,' say's Clare, speaking for the first time, 
' we have to discuss mother's actions, and I 
do not see how it is to be avoided, I think it 
ought to be quite among ourselves.' 

The voice is very gentle, but there can be 
no mistake as to the intended application of 



26 DEAR FAUSTINA 



the words ; and a slight colour comes Into 
Faustina's handsome olive cheek. 

'The house Is to be cleared of strangers,' 
she says, rising and moving to the door, with 
a half-laugh ; ' I am sorry that I am thought 
to come under that head.' 

A deeper stain than that which had only 
just tinged her friend's face dyes Althea's. 

' You might have let her stay ; she is quite 
like one of us.' 

Clare does not retort, but emphatic dis- 
claimers come from the masculine members 
of the family — ' Speak for yourself !' and 
' I cannot say that I regard her in that 

light.' 

As for Fanny, her mood is still watery, 
and, like Clymene, the tenderest-spirited of 
Keats' Titans, she ' sobs among l^ter tangled 
hair.' 

' I was afraid that there was some un- 
pleasant surprise in store for us ; but I did 
not expect quite such a clean sweep,' says 



DEAR FAUSTINA 27 

Clare, moved, but not disordered like her 
junior. * Fanny dear, do stop crying ! We 
must make the best of it.' 

' It is all very well for you to talk,' replies 
Fanny, attempting no compliance with her 
sister's request, ' who have nothing to make 
the best of ! — good husband, nice house, 
waiting for you. But what is to become of 
Althea and me ?' 

' As to Althea, that is her own affair,' says 
the elder brother, with a noticeable dryness 
in his tone. ' But as far as you are con- 
cerned, Fanny, you need not be afraid but 
that you will be looked after.' 

The latter clause is very kindly spoken, 
albeit a dash of new young authority tinges 
the vexation of his voice. Nearly all men feel 
kindly towards Fanny, who is a very pleasant 
little object to the eye, and who possesses 
the gift — more valuable to a woman than 
any wisdom of her own — of making every 
man she speaks to feel wise. She now puts 



28 DEAR FAUSTINA 

out her hand confidingly to Edward, and 
says : 

* But I cannot go and live with you at 
Christ Church !' 

The schoolboy gives a chuckle, presum- 
ably at the idea of his sister in cap and 
gown ; but the feeling of the little assembly 
is so distinctly anti-mirthful that he gets red 
and strangles it. 

In all their minds, with the exception, 
perhaps, of the boy, is oppressively present 
the memory of that day, six months ago, 
when Edward had been wired for from 
Oxford, and Thomas from Eton, and they 
had all — coming straight from their father's 
death-bed — assembled in this very room. 
The only difference seems to be that then the 
blinds had been drawn down, and that now 
they are drawn up ; but so dark is the 
London day that the change in this respect 
is not very perceptible. The likeness forces 
a few low, moved words from Clare : 



DEAR FAUSTINA 29 

' Oh, /low he would have hated it !' 

For the last hour Althea had at intervals 
been struggling with almost uncheckable 
sobs ; but the sight of Fanny's facile tears 
seems to have dried her deeper-fountained 
ones, and she gives in answer only a little 
melancholy nod of assent. 

' If she would but have waited a little — 
waited till these two young ones were grown 
up,' says Edward, turning round again to 
resume his former position facing the fire, 
with his elbow on the mantel-piece, as if not 
wishing his family to suspect how much 
Clare's putting into words his own regrets 
has upset him. 

' She would have lost six years,' says 
Althea, speaking for the first time. * We 
must try to look at things from her point of 
view ; as she said, she has no time to lose.' 

' It depends upon what one's definition of 
lost time is,' rejoins he coldly. 'Yours and 
mine would probably differ.' 



30 DEAR FAUSTINA 

His tone — for they had once been allies — 
stings her into another painful flush. 

' As you know, I have never had any 
sympathy with mother's views. Until to- 
day ' 

But he interrupts her impatiently, as if 
advocacy, however slight, of their parent's 
extravagances is more than, in the present 
state of his temper and feelings, he can bear. 

' It is not of much use discussing her views 
or our opinions of them, w^hich are sure to be 
pretty well at variance.' 

' Whatever happens, do not let us squabble 
among ourselves !' cries Clare, laying one 
hand on Althea's shoulder, and holding out 
the other pacifyingly in the direction— since 
he is too far off to be reached by touch — of 
Edward. ' We may differ — I am afraid that 
there is no help for that — but there is no 
earthly reason why we should not all be 
friends. ' 

'I am afraid that there is every reason,' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 



returns the young man, with stubborn bitter- 
ness. ' Elements of dissension besides those 
with which Nature has endowed us have 
been imported into the family by one of us, 
but it is no use discussing that subject now ; 
it would be mere waste of time. Such of us 
as agree had better talk over our plans 
quietly together, when we have the oppor- 
tunity.' 

' You shall have it now !' says Althea, 
growing scarlet, getting quickly up, and 
walking towards the door. ' You again 
wish the house to be cleared of strangers ' 
— quoting what had been her friend's parting 
words — ' perhaps when I am gone you will 
think it sufficiently purged !' 

Nor do all Clare's entreaties — Althea's ear 
tells her that no other voice joins in her 
petition — avail to detain her. But, though 
it is in the cause of friendship that she is a 
sufferer, she does not immediately seek the 
society of the bone of contention. It is in 



32 DEAR FAUSTINA 

the retirement of her own third-story bed- 
room that her sister, coming, after the lapse 
of more than an hour, in search of her, finds 
her. 

' Are you alone ? May I come in ?' 

' Come in.' 

Clare enters, casting a quick look round 
the room as she does so. 

Althea laughs, a little bitterly, recognizing 
its apprehensive quality. 

' You need not be afraid. My apartment 
is not polluted by the presence of poor 
Faustina !' 

' Poor Faustina ! That is the last epithet 
I should think of applying to her.' 

'Is it? Well, have you come to tell me 
how satisfactorily you all arranged your 
future, after you had turned me out ?' 

' We did not turn you out ; you turned 
yourself out.' 

' I think I had a tolerably distinct hint to 
stay away.' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 33 



* Poor old Edward !' says Clare, with ^a 
compassionate inflection ; * he is sore and 
hurt. You must make allowances for 
him; 

' Poor Edward ! I think the epithet quite 
as much misapplied to him as to Faustina.' 

' We will not apply it to either of them, 
then ; we will abstain from epithets alto- 
gether ; they are generally misfits.' 

' I know that I am very cross ' — contritely, 
and with a breaking voice — ' but it is hard 
to have every man's hand against me ! I 
am not used to it.' 

' No one's hand is against you. To prove 
it, I have come to make you a proposal.' 

' From Edward ?' 

* No, from myself 

Clare has sat down on the end of her sister's 
bed, a smile of anticipated pleasure in the 
pleasure she is about to give lighting into 
beauty a face which in general does not rise 
above comeliness. 

3 



34 DEAR FAUSTINA 



A slight answering glow of vague hope 
illumines Althea's prettier features. 

' I have come to suggest that you should 
live with us- — with me and William.' 

* With you and William I Why, he hates 
the sight of me !' 

' He does nothing of the kind ; he is far 
too good to hate anyone.' 

• Well, I do not know what a good man 
does instead of hating, but whatever it is, 
William does that. He would never hear of 
your plan.' 

' He has heard of it. He came in five 
minutes after you left us, and he — he is 
delighted at the idea !' — with a slightly falter- 
ing voice. 

Althea's face is an expressive one, and at 
this statement it assumes a look of such 
extreme incredulity that they both laugh a 
little. 

' He would be away at the Stock Exchange 
most of the day,' pursues William's betrothed, 



DEAR FAUSTINA 



35 



with an heroic assumption of thinking this a 
subject for congratulation ; ' and you and I 
have always pulled together perfectly until 
Faus — until just lately, and even now, since 
we know the few subjects on which we differ, 
we might easily agree to avoid them.' 

' And Fanny ?' 

' Fanny thinks she would like to go to 
Paris for two years to Madame Sarrasin, to 
study at the Conservatoire, and Edward sees 
no objection.' 

There is a pause. In the shifty firelight 
— hitherto the room's only illumination — the 
expression of the younger sister's face is but 
imperfectly to be deciphered, and the elder 
one, impatient to read it, turns the button of 
the electric light. It is a very uncertain 
April countenance that the sudden shock of 
hard radiance reveals. 

' I should be the fifth wheel of the coach,' 
and, a minute later : ' Double - actioned 
establishments scarcely ever answer.' But 



36 DEAR FAUSTINA 

there is a sound of semi-yielding in her 
voice. 

* You — you had not made any other plan, 
I suppose ?' 

* How could I ? The whole thing was 
sprung upon us as such a surprise.' 

' I thought — I imagined that you might 
have had some project proposed to you by 
— another person.' 

* By Faustina ?' 
*Yes.' 

Althea shakes her head. 

* I have not seen her since she, like me ' — 
with a slight return of bitterness — ' was re- 
quested to efface herself 

Clare gives a sigh, which she tries to make 
not too patently one of satisfaction. If it 
contains any other ingredient, she endeavours 
with equal loyalty to suppress that. 

' It is very good and unselfish, and like 
you, to propose what must be such a sacrifice 
to you,' says Althea in an affectionate, moved 



DEAR FAUSTINA 37 

voice. ' Such a sacrifice as the continual 
presence of any third person, were it an 
angel from heaven, must entail upon a 
newly-married couple who like each other !' 

Perhaps this sentiment finds some echo in 
the bosom of the person addressed, for she 
rather kindly evades than absolutely contra- 
dicts it. 

* I dare say you will not trouble us long. 
I dare say before a year is over you will be a 
newly-married couple, or, rather ' — laughing 
— ' half one, yourself.' 

' I shall never marry. You know that I 
have a horror of it.' 

* I know ' — reddening with a nearer 
approach to real anger than her placid, 
smooth face often shows — 'that of late you 
have chosen to say so, and I also know to 
what influence to attribute it ; but when 
once you have got away from that in- 
fluence ' 

'I have no wish' — with a complexion 



38 DEAR FAUSTINA 

quite as heightened as her sister's — 'to get 
away from it, since it is far the noblest I 
have ever known.' 

*We must be talking at cross-purposes,' 
says Clare, her tone changing from its 
unwonted ire to one of apprehensive distress. 
' A moment ago I thought that you had all 
but consented to come to us — to William 
and me !' 

' How would that remove me from her 
influence ? You will live in London, and 
Faustina's work must always keep her 
here.' 

* But you do not suppose ' — she breaks off, 
and, after an ominous pause, goes on more 
deliberately : ' You mus^ see that I could not 
possibly ask William to admit into his house 
a person whom he dislikes and disapproves 
as much as he does Miss Bateson.' 

' And you mus^ see ' — with a crimson face, 
and in a key trembling between indignation 
and pain — ' that you could not possibly 



DEAR FAUSTINA 



39 



ask me to live In a house which shuts its 
door upon my dearest and most valued 
friend.' 

' You might see her, of course, if you 
chose, at other places. I need not say that 
neither William nor I would put any hindrance 
in the way of your doing that, however much 
we might dislike it.' 

Althea shakes her head. 

' The very fact of knowing that we differed 
upon so vital a subject ' 

' Vital?' 

' To 7ne, vital — would be a perennial 
source of dissension between us. No, Clare ' 
— with a sad, fixed dignity — ' I fully recog- 
nize the generosity that dictated your offer, 
but it would not be for the happiness of either 
of us that I should accept it.' 

' You are given the choice between Faus- 
tina and me,' says Clare, in a profoundly hurt 
voice, 'and you choose Faustina.' 

The irrepressible, or, at all events, unre- 



40 DEAR FAUSTINA 



pressed, contempt which mingles with the 
wounded feeling of her tone stings Althea 
into prompt rejoinder. 

' Much as you dislike her, you would not 
have a very high opinion of me if I were 
willing to throw over one who has cut herself 
adrift from every natural tie in order to 
devote herself to what she thinks — to what 
everyone must think — the higher claims.' 

' That is her own version,' replies Clare, 
in a tone whose unaffected disgust pierces 
through the habitual suave moderation of 
her voice. ' Other people say that she left 
home because she was kicked out— that is, 
because she could not get on with any one 
member of her family.' 

* If one falls so low as to listen to what 

"other people" say ' cries Althea, 

championship lifting her voice into a pitch 
several keys higher than its natural one. 

What the other limb of her sentence would 
have been does not appear, since it is ampu- 



DEAR FAUSTINA 41 



tated by the opening of the door and the 
insertion of a dark head. 

' My own darling, what has become of 
you ? I have been searching for you every- 
where ! Have you, too, been turned out 
by • 

Her speech breaks off as short — on catch- 
ing sight of Clare — as her ' own darling's ' 
had done, and they all for a moment or two 
look at each other with uncomfortable scarlet 
faces ; that is to say, two of the faces are 
scarlet, the third keeps its cool sallow un- 
tinged. Clare cuts the disagreeable knot by 
going, simply saying to Althea in a lowered 
voice, which implies that she would fain 
exclude Faustina from being co-hearer of her 
speech : 

* If you alter your mind, as I think and 
hope you will, you have only to let us know.' 

The door closes. 

' What are you to alter your mind about ?' 
asks Faustina in a voice of tender curiosity ; 



42 DEAR FAUSTINA 



* or ' — seeing that Althea hesitates — 'is it 
something that you have been forbidden to 
tell me? If so, of course do not think of 
answering.' 

' It is no secret. I am sure Clare would 
not mind your hearing. She has been ask- 
ing me to live with her and William.' 

' And you have accepted ?' 

* No ; I have refused.' 

Miss Bateson gives a sigh of perhaps 
rather ostentatious relief. * How wise !' 

* Was it wise i^' asks the other, half sadly, 
the advantages of the proposed plan having 
begun to loom large upon her from the 
moment she had rejected it. ' I should have 
had love and warmth and family life, which, 
after all, are three good things.' 

' Love and warmth in larger measure are 
waiting you elsewhere, if you will only take 
them ; and as to family life, it is generally 
more of a hamperer than a help.' 

* You found it so, did not you ?' says 



DEAR FAUSTINA 43 



Althea, wishing that the picture called up 
by her sister's words of Miss Bateson being 
pitchforked from under her family roof-tree 
by the combined efforts of her relatives did 
not present itself so vividly before her mind's 
eye as she speaks. * And mother — that has 
certainly been her experience. How well 
she spoke ! I felt as if I had never under- 
stood her before. TAe pity of humanity ! 
Yes, that ought to be a lever strong enough 
to uproot one from any surrounding. Some- 
times I have half a mind to join her.' 

' You would be in her way,' replies Faus- 
tina hastily ; ' she does not want you. 
Enthusiasts like her can work only on 
their own lines ; and her lines are not 
yours.' 

' Ldo not quite know what my line is' — 
dejectedly — 'except to be de trop, and at a 
loose end.' 

* You are feeling very lonely, dearest,' says 
Faustina in an excessively kind voice ; and. 



44 DEAR FA USTINA 

with suitable action : * You must remember 
that it is the inevitable result of having out- 
grown your surroundings.' 

' I suppose there may be something in 
that,' replies Althea, but with not much of 
the elation which the acceptance of so flatter- 
ing a hypothesis might imply. 

' Since it is I that have caused you the 
pain of feeling that your sheath is too tight 
for you — and it is a painful process ; develop- 
ment, growth, often are — will not you let me 
apply the remedy ?' 

' What remedy ?' 

' I have robbed you of a home. Do you 
imagine that I am ignorant that it is on 
account of your beautiful loyalty to me that 
your family have turned their backs upon you i^' 

* But they have not turned their backs.' 

' They have made it a condition of their 
countenance that you should renounce me. 
I know that as well as if you had told me in 
so many words.' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 



45 



This is so nearly the truth that Althea is 
silent. 

' I have been the means of robbing you of 
one home ; may not I ' — sinking her voice, 
which has a quite un-put-on tremble in it — ' 
' mayn't I offer you another — a very different 
one in point of luxury — but, as you have often 
told me, the essentials of life are what you 
care about — you do not mind the trappings ?' 

* I am absolutely indifferent to them.' 

* I knew it ' — in a tone of triumph. ' Then, 
will you come and live with me ? share a 
home where there may not be a great many 
silver spoons ' — laughing — * but where work 
and aspiration and love will certainly not be 
lacking ?' 

A flush of gratitude and half-frightened 
pleasure rushes over Althea's face. 

' Do you mean live with you in the slums 
at Notting Hill? Oh, how often I have 
thought of the tales you have told me of 
your experiences there ! Of the people sitting 



46 DEAR FAUSTINA 

out all night upon their doorsteps in summer 
because they could not face the vermin in 
their hideous beds ! Do you really think 
me worthy and able to share that noble life ?' 

Faustina changes countenance slightly. 

'No, no ; I was not contemplating that. 
That was merely a phase through which I 
happened to be passing. I had to live there for 
a while, because — because — in fact, because 
I was getting up the subject of the Housing 
of the Working Classes. But ' — seeing the 
illumined countenance before her darken 
and shade into disappointment — ' do not be 
afraid ! It will be the same picture, only 
seen at a different angle. We can serve the 
Cause, our Cause, the Cause of Humanity, 
better just now in a Chelsea flat than in a 
Notting Hill lodging-house.' 

' Can we ?' — brightening again — ' but ' — 
with a relapse into cloudiness — ' I thought 
that another friend shared your life — lived 
with you ?' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 



47 



' We have agreed to part, ' replies Faustina 
gravely ; ' for some time we have been de- 
veloping in opposite directions ; she differs 
from me diametrically upon the employment 
of Infant Labour. No, darling' — with 
solemn tenderness — ' if you bless my home 
with your sweet presence, your sovereignty 
over my heart will be absolutely unshared.' 

Althea is silent, looking on the ground, 
while her face quivers. 

' I am sure I do not know what you see in 
me.' 



[48] 



CHAPTER III. 

The house is to be sold — the good solid 
family house — which, though since its 
eighteenth - century birth it has seen the 
senseless tide of fashion set westwards from 
it, is still modish enough to suit any but a 
very much up-to-date appetite. Some of its 
neighbours in the street are pointed out as 
having been the dwelling-places of illustrious 
persons ; and itself, strong and stout, with 
its Adams garlanded walls and its Sheraton 
chimney-pieces, faces the world as healthily 
as when first it left the hands of the con- 
scientious masons who built it. It has been 
the nucleus of the whole family life of the 



DEAR FAUSTINA 49 

Vanes — the birthplace of the children, the 
point towards which all their school thoughts 
have set, and whence they have gone forth 
joyfully to the pantomime and tearfully to 
the dentist ; in one room of which Clare had 
first heard her William declare his love, with 
a clumsiness which might have reassured her 
as to his ever having done it before, and 
in another of which Althea, kneeling, as at a 
Holy Sacrament, had received the last faint, 
fond look from her dying father's eyes. 

And now it is to come to the hammer ! 

Even were it not so much too large for 
the occupancy of a single man, the Death 
Duties, imposed by a beneficent Legislature 
to make us presumably cling to life even 
more tightly than we have hitherto done, 
would render it quite impossible for Edward 
to inhabit the home of his fathers. 

Its sale is to be preceded by that of its 
furniture, and the last weeks passed under 
its roof by the family that has so long lived 

4 



50 DEAR FAUSTINA 

in it are spent in all the Ineffable discomfort 
of deciding what is to be kept and what 
abandoned ; in allotting to each member 
their several possessions ; and in seeing dis- 
lodged from their ancient places dumb 
objects which have been landmarks in all 
their lives. 

By the end of a month they are all In- 
tolerably sad, dusty, and covered with hay. 

Mrs. Vane has departed early, taking with 
her but few household goods, since she does 
not contemplate ever again having a fixed 
roof-tree — departed before the last ceremony 
in the Vane family which the solid old 
mansion is to father — the marriage of Clare. 

Since it is well known to her children that 
the abolishment of that institution is one of 
their mother's Blue Roses, and that if people 
must enter into that iniquitous contract her 
opinion is decidedly in favour of their doing 
so at a registry-office, those children do not 
deplore her absence. Clare and William 



DEAR FAUSTINA 51 

have a commonplace preference for church 
and psalms and ' The Voice that breathed 
o'er Eden.' 

' One may as well have it decently done, 
since one has a wedding only once in one's 
life.' 

To which Thomas, a third time summoned 
from Eton for a family function, has humor- 
ously responded that * this is not a sanguine 
view to take, and that if luck is on her side 
she may have several f 

Thomas has not shared the dismantling 
work, which has told so heavily upon his 
relatives' spirits ; nor does he share their 
gloom, since, indeed, it is almost as difficult 
to be sad at the beginning of life as it is to 
be gay at the end. It is rare that the grief 
of the young for the old survives 'the flowers 
in their caps.' The ^mwise old recognize it 
with bitterness. The wise accept with a 
pang of patient pain the ruthless, yet salutary, 
order of Nature. 



52 DEAR FAUSTINA 

Fanny, it is true, goes on crying inter- 
mittently through the last weeks ; but in her 
case that does not prove much. She always 
likes crying ; it is the solution of all her 
difficulties. Damp and easy they flow away, 
and no one has the heart to stop them. 

In the honest hard work of those final days, 
the bodily fatigue, the pulling of heart-strings 
in common over the dislodged relics of dead 
childhood, the differences that had risen so 
mountain-high flatten themselves into plains. 
Edward has made calls upon Althea s memory 
over battered toy and eviscerated picture-book 
for recollections of departed wars, iniquities, 
and junkets, and that memory has never 
failed to answer to the demands made upon 
it. But, unfortunately, it is not through ad- 
justment of their differences, but simply by a 
judicious silence about them — a truce of God 
— that this holy calm has been arrived at. It 
has doubtless been aided by the temporary 
disappearance from the scene of Faustina, 



DEAR FAUSTINA 53 

who, being no fool — and, indeed, she would 
have been a fool of quite phenomenal pro- 
portions if she had failed to do so — having 
noticed that she has no longer any foothold 
in the house, has for the moment effaced 
herself. 

What the eye does not see, the heart does 
not feel ; and possibly the sanguine young 
Vanes, with wishes very much father to their 
thoughts, believe for a short halcyon interval 
that her disappearance is final. They are un- 
deceived. On the eve of the marriage, after 
a long day's labour, they are resting in the 
library — the only sitting-room still habitable, 
since it is to receive Clare's few wedding 
guests. Though some of her relatives have 
offered her their houses, and others have sug- 
gested a hotel, she has clung pertinaciously 
to the resolution to go forth to her new life 
from the old doors. 

' I should not feel married if I were not 
married from here !' 



54 DEAR FAUSTINA 

The family, wearied as they are, will go 
out presently to dine at a restaurant, their 
kitchen staff being almost wholly dismissed ; 
and meanwhile they are all together, and 
feeling very kind and fond toward each other. 
This attitude of mind is, however, not 
destined to be a lasting one. 

' To think that this is the last evening we 
shall ever sit in this jolly old room !' says 
Thomas, setting down his teacup, and casting 
an eye irrepressibly jovial even while uttering 
this pensive ejaculation along the emptied 
bookshelves. 

It is what they have all been feeling far 
too deeply to give it voice ; and the sense of 
how unsafe in the present tender state of the 
family spirits is the topic, evidently hurries 
Edward into another, though kindred, subject. 

' Thee, did you ever find that second 
volume of Pennant's *' London "?' 

'Never.' 

' Someone must have borrowed it.' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 55 

' Or stolen ? People are so dishonest about 
books.' 

' It was almost too bulky to steal.' 

The subject drops ; both Edward and 
Althea have too keen a memory, and are 
both too conscious of each other's thoughts 
of the long-ago Sunday evenings, when to 
have Pennant's ' London ' taken from its 
shelf, and its interleaved pictures explained 
by their father, had been one of childhood's 
dearest treats, to find the theme any safer 
than the previous one. The father is dead 
and the book is lost. Brother and sister 
strangle a sigh ; but again each divines the 
other, as their two pair of eyes, meeting in 
sad and affectionate understanding, testify. 

' By this time to-morrow we shall be 
scattered to the ends of the earth !' resumes 
Thomas. 

He is too young to remember the Pennant 
Sunday evenings, nor suspects the emotion 
working in his seniors. 



56 DEAR FAUSTINA 

' It is rather a bold metaphor to call Eton 
and Oxford the ends of the earth,' answers 
Clare, laughing tremulously. 

' By-the-by,' continues the boy, turning 
abruptly towards his second sister, 'where 
are you going to scatter to. Thee ?' 

It is a case of the rushing fool clearing a 
way for cautious angels. How the cautious 
angels hold their breaths ! It is a query they 
have all wished to put, and all shrink from 
putting. That there is also a shrinking from 
answering in the person addressed is made 
evident by the unnecessarily long pause 
before she opens her mouth. 

' I am not going to scatter anywhere.' 

' You are going to stay in London T 

' Yes.' 

The monosyllable stands quite alone, and 
is evidently intended to remain in its isola- 
tion. The rest of the family — despite the 
itch of angry curiosity that is beginning to 
irritate them — would probably leave it so ; 



DEAR FAUSTINA 57 

but once again the schoolboy cat pulls the 
chestnuts out of the fire. 

' Who is going to put you up ? Aunt 
Lavinia ?' 

'No.' 

' The De la Poers ? 

*No.' 

* Where are you going, then ?' 

Direct, and consequently easily answered, 
as this inquiry would seem, it remains un- 
responded to long enough to have time for a 
derisive successor to trip up its heels. 

' Have you taken an arch under Waterloo 
Bridge ?' 

Perhaps the young jeer in his tone gives 
the needed spur to Althea's speech. 

' No ; I have not. I have taken half a 
flat — half Fausti — half Miss Bateson's flat in 
Chelsea.' 

If they had been questioned afterwards, 
all the family would have asseverated that 
they had expected nothing less ; yet for a full 



58 DEAR FAUSTINA 

two minutes after the shell has burst there is 
a generally felt sense of aghastness in the 
air. To the person who has thrown the 
bomb it is the most acutely perceptible. 

' What jolly fun for you !' says Thomas, 
getting, as usual, speediest possession of his 
powers of speech. ' I wish you joy of it, and 
her!' 

He turns on his heel as he speaks, and 
makes, with disdainful haste and noise, for 
the door. With less noise, but certainly not 
with less disdain, as Althea, with a heart-pang, 
sharply feels, Edward follows. Fanny slides 
inoffensively, but evidently acquiescingly, after 
them. Only Clare remains. 

' So you are going to carry it out to the 
bitter end,' she says in a cold voice, that yet 
has plainly an underlying heat beneath it. 

' I do not know what you mean by " the 
bitter end." ' Althea's voice is also cold, and 
has as much underlying warmth as her 
sister's. ' I am going to adopt what seems 



DEAR FAUSTINA 59 



to me the best line of life now within my 
reach.' 

' Better, of course, than a degraded exist- 
ence with us.' 

The heat is beginning to pierce the thin 
ice-crust. 

' You will be much happier leading your 
"degraded existence," as you choose to call 
it, by yourselves.' 

' We shall not be by ourselves. Fanny 
will be with us.' 

* Fanny !' in unfeigned surprise. ' I thought 
she had decided to go to Paris to study at 
the Conservatoire !' 

' When it came to the point, she found 
she could not bear to be cut adrift from us 
even for a time. Poor clear Fanny ! she has 
a very loving little heart.' 

Clare is much too amiable a woman to 
have intentionally laid a weight upon the 
pronoun, but to Althea's ear that expressive 
weight is but too perceptible. She laughs. 



6o DEAR FAUSTINA 

* So my self-sacrifice was wasted ! You 
will be the eternal three, after all.' 

Perhaps this idea has already had to 
be combated by the bride-elect, for she 
winces. 

' F'anny does not count ; we can always 
send her out of the room if she is de trop. 
You know how biddable she is, and William 
likes her.' 

' Yes, William likes her.' 

' It is quite a different thing, of course, 
from his feeling for you. His first thought, 
as you know, was to have you.' 

' And who was it planted that first thought 
in his breast T — smiling with affectionate 
scepticism. ' You may swear yourself black 
in the face, Clare, but I will never believe 
that it grew there of itself.' 

' I may have suggested it in the first 
instance, but he took it up at once.' 

' And now he has joyfully laid it down 
again !' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 6i 

' I know that you never — never of late, 
that is — can believe in any man having a 
good or kind or noble impulse.' 

' I am not quite so irrational as to damn 
one half of creation because of the faults and 
selfishnesses that ages of tyranny and the 
radical viciousness of the present social 
system have developed in them.' 

The whole shape and flavour of this 
sentence, smacking unmistakably of the 
source whence it sprang, make Clare feel so 
angry that, being a woman with a habit of 
self-control, she does not trust herself to 
speak. Althea is conscious of, and half 
regretful for, having been offensive, yet her 
next sentence, though tricked out as an 
amende, does not improve matters. 

' I never doubted the existence of good 
men in the world. Edward is a good man. 
William is a good, an excellent man, accord- 
ing to his lights.' 

' According to his lights !' 



62 DEAR FAUSTINA 

*Yes, according to his lights. I suppose 
we must all walk by our own.' 

The modified encomium contained in this 
sentence, and its aroma of patronage, have 
the effect of vanquishing Clare's sweet 
temper. 

' And if some of us choose to mistake for 
light nasty little boggy exhalations, we may 
chance to land our disciples in a slough.' 

Althea's eyes flash. 

' Granting your premise, I had rather be 
landed in a slough while striving after light, 
than sit contentedly in the darkness on dry 
ground.' 

' Would you ? Personally, I see no neces- 
sary opposition between light and dryness.' 

But the tone of the sentence Is out of 
character with the gentle-natured speaker, 
and she at once drops into a more natural key. 

' Oh, how dear father would have hated 
it I Oh, the blessed blindness and deafness 
of death !' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 63 

A disfiguring pucker of angry pain con- 
tracts Althea's mouth. 

' It is unjustifiable, criminal, cruel, to drag 
in the dead, who cannot contradict you, to 
your aid because you are getting worsted in 
an argument.' 

' I deny that I am getting worsted. Would 
not he — can you deny that he would have 
hated it ? — that he would have hated — de- 
tested her ?' 

The other hesitates a moment ; then 
speaks with the firm clearness of assured 
conviction. 

* I can and do deny it. He might have 
disliked her at first — yes, I am almost sure 
that he would at first — but afterwards, when 
he recognized the real grandeur of her char- 
acter — under all the crust of prejudice that 
he could not help sharing with people of his 
date, he was so quick to recognize and so 
generous to allow nobility in others — dear, 
dear father ! — he would have rated her as 



64 DEAR FAUSTINA 

highly as I do, and ' — firmly — ' I cannot put 
it more strongly.' 

Clare shakes her head. 

' As you say, the dead cannot contradict 
one ; and there is no use ' — sadly and no 
longer angrily — ' in embittering our last talk 
by assertions and denials of what neither of 
us can ever now prove ; but I cannot think 
that you have chosen well for your own 
happiness/ 

' There ' — with a flush of obstinacy — ' I 
must differ from you ; and even if I did not, 
will you tell me what better alternative is 
before me ? You have been in haste — you 
and William — to fill the place that you offered 
me in your home.' 

'In haste!' — wounded — 'why, you posi- 
tively refused to come to us.' 

' I refused because you affixed conditions 
that no one with a spark of honour could 
have complied with. No' — dropping her 
air of dignity, and speaking with unrepressed 



DEAR FAUSTINA 65 



excitement — 'that is not true. I could not 
have accepted in any case. I am tired of 
luxury and cotton-wool. I cannot get the 
cry of the whole travailing creation out of 
my ears. You may detest her, but it was 
P'austina who first made me really hear it.' 

' I do not think one needs a Faustina to 
make one hear that,' replies Clare, with quiet 
contempt ; but Althea does not hear her. 
She is walking quickly about the room with 
locked hands and luminous eyes. * One has 
so little time, too, in which to work — ten, or 
often twenty, useless years at the beginning 
of life, and perhaps five or ten helpless ones 
at the end. Such work to do, and only one 
little life to do it in.' 

'Only one life! Is that another chapter 
of Faustina's gospel ?' 

' Only one, practically — only one that we 
know anything about, or have any control 
over ; and if we are to have thousands — 
thousands' — throwing out her hands with a 

5 



66 DEAR FAUSTINA 

gesture of unlimited extension — ' to have 
wasted the first is no very good preparation 
for them.' 

' I am sure I have no wish to make you 
waste it,' says Clare, with a half-remorseful 
sense of the unascetic brilliancy of her own 
outlook ; ' but I wonder, having these views, 
that you did not join mother in her crusade.' 

' I was half sorry I had not, while she was 
speaking ; she looked so inspired. But, no ' 
— shaking her head — ' she did not really 
want me ; and, besides, I — I cannot forget 
how unhappy she made him.' 

* And you think that this would have made 
him less unhappy ?' 

' As I told you before ' — with angry ex- 
citement — 'you have no right to bring him 
into the question.' 

* You have yourself just brought him 
in.' 

This is true, and silences her. 

* Well,' says Clare, with a deep sigh, 



DEAR FAUSTINA 67 

rising as if to depart, ' I am afraid I may 
say with Mortimer : 

' " No more of this unprofitable chat !" 

At this indication of an intention to leave 
her on the part of the last member of her 
family who had cleaved to her, Althea's 
loftily-beating heart sinks. Involuntarily she 
stretches out her hand with a childish gesture 
to pull her sister back by the gown. 

Clare's doorward-set face turns back, not 
relentingly, since there had never been any 
touch of hardness in her heart, but with 
affectionate regret. 

* If ever you — I was going to say see the 
error of your ways, but that would be 
putting it offensively — if ever you see reason 
to change your mind ' 

' I will die before I own it.' 



[68] 



CHAPTER IV. 

The break-up has come. Clare has been 
united to her William, and as Mrs. William 
Boteler has set off on a singularly piercing 
afternoon to a proverbially cold county, 
where a friend has lent them a seldom-in- 
habited and sparsely-servanted country-house. 
It is the mode in which nowadays every 
couple that respects itself must begin its 
wedded career, though to many it may seem 
but a dubious improvement upon the old 
jolly month at Rome or trip to Paris. How- 
ever, with so many new furs, and such a 
warm flame of love as both bride and bride- 
groom can boast, a thermometer at zero, and 



DEAR FAUSTINA 69 

a setting of Lincolnshire fens for the jewel 
of their bliss, are matters of little moment. 

It is not from want of furs that Althea 
shivers as she watches from the doorstep 
her sister, blinded and senselessly pelted 
with rice, yet obstinately radiant, disappear- 
ing into the future via the Great Northern 
Railway station. Mixed with the dull pain 
of loss and change is the keener sense of 
acute compassion. What an awful fate, to 
be vanishing into a fen alone with William 
Boteler for a whole fortnight ! Not only so, 
but to emerge from it at the end of that 
fortnight saddled with him for life, in fulfil- 
ment of that contract of which Faustina has 
only lately explained to her the full iniquity. 
She has to keep her pity to herself, since 
neither brothers, remaining sister, nor the 
few old friends who share the doorstep with 
her, would be likely to sympathize in it. 
Yet she cannot resist giving an emphatic 
head-shake and ' Never !' to the ' Well, 



70 DEAR FAUSTINA 

Althea, it will be your turn next!' of a 
civilly-meaning old gentleman, to whom the 
statement that marriage is not the sole 
possible solution of woman's riddle would 
sound like gibberish. Her emphatic dis- 
claimer is misconstrued into desponding 
modesty, and calls forth the encouraging re- 
joinder that ' it is early days to despair 
yet.' 

Then comes the parting with the old house 
and her kindred. To the first she would 
have liked to bid farewell in lingering alone- 
ness, but is baffled by a second old friend — 
female this time — who insists on accompany- 
ing her. She marches, therefore, quickly 
and stolidly through the denuded rooms 
aching with emptiness, and stares blankly 
at the unfaded patches of wall which alone 
mark the spots whence her lifelong friends, 
the dear old family Romneys and Hoppners, 
have descended. 

Her brethren bid her good-bye, each in 



DEAR FAUSTINA 71 

different wise : Thomas with the absent 
friendliness of one whose mental eye is fixed 
elsewhere ; Fanny with soft expansiveness, 
but yet conveying clearly a gentle impression 
of being aware that she is deservedly in 

disgrace ; and Edward Can it be from 

that rare good comrade of old times that she 
is parting with this cool hand-shake, supple- 
mented, when she offers her face — not before 
— by a little frosty, pecking kiss ? 

' You will send me a line now and then ?' 
she asks, with a wistful unwillingness to let 
that icy formality stand as sole adieu between 
them. 

' I am not much of a scribe, as you know,' 
is his reply, turning away and wrapping 
Fanny, as if to accentuate the contrast 
between them, in his arms. 

There are arms, however, ready to enfold 
Althea, though those of her own blood seem 
more inclined to hang limply by their sides — 
ready, impatient, ardent. So she finds when. 



72 DEAR FAUSTINA 



having climbed the carpetless and not par- 
ticularly clean stone stairs of More Mansions, 
Chelsea, to the fourth floor (there is no 
lift), she is admitted by Miss Bateson herself 
to the privacy of her eyrie. The strenuous- 
ness of Faustina's embrace is grateful to the 
heart still shivering from the chill of its 
kindred's good-byes, and her torrid words 
do not sound as exaggerated as in cooler 
moments they might be recognized to be. 

' My darling ! I have you at last ! I was 
terrified lest at the final moment Philistia 
might triumph over me. But here you are 
— here we are — and can earth give anything 
better ?' 

To an indifferent or over-critical eye it 
might seem that earth must be but poorly 
supplied with conveniences if it could not ; 
but the depressed and overwrought girl to 
whom this flight of rhetoric is addressed 
hears only the warm affection that dictated 
it, and she bursts into grateful tears. 



DEAR FAUSTINA 73 

' You are really glad to see me ? I thought 
that no one was ever goin^ to be glad to see 
me again. How can I thank you enough ?' 

'As if there could be any question of 
thanks between us /' 

With their friendship at this high pitch of 
tension, they enter their now joint domain. 
More Mansions is one of those blocks of 
towering jerry buildings that have sprung 
up within the last three years to meet the 
requirements and match the purses of inde- 
pendent female spirits, imprudent marriages, 
and narrow incomes. 

'It is neither large nor pretty,' says 
Faustina, introducing her new inmate into 
her minute drawing-room — 'just a working 
woman's room ; but there will be space for 
a great deal of happiness in it.' 

' I am sure there will !'— with an emphasis 
all the stronger for the pang of shame at 
having felt a momentary sense of dismay at 
the disproportion between her own and her 



74 DEAR FAUSTINA 



friend's tall figures, and the area which is to 
contain them. 

' And we have a nice peep of the river ' 
— pulling back the window-curtain. 

' Yes, and I am so fond of the river ' 
— looking out at its constellation of lights 
obliquely seen. ' When one thinks of all it 
has carried and all it means, one feels that 
more than half, the poetry of London belongs 
to it.' 

'Quite so' — rather absently. 'And now, 
darling' — sitting down, and drawing Althea 
to her side — Met me have a good, oood look 
at you. Have not I been exemplary in 
effacing myself all these days ? If the 
Philistines had but known what it cost me !' 

Were Althea given her choice, she would 
prefer that Faustina should not habitually 
refer to her family as ' the Philistines ' ; but 
the feeling that it would be ungracious to 
begin to carp in these early moments of their 
reunion, coupled with fresh gratitude for the 



DEAR FAUSTINA 75 

devotion expressed, tie her tongue. And 
Miss Bateson goes on, in blissful ignorance 
of the slight jar : 

' And the Function ?' — with an accent of 
good-humoured contempt on the noun — 'how 
did you get through it ?' 

* It was not / that had to get through it.' 

' No, thank God ! And whither was the 
victim borne afterwards ?' 

' To Lincolnshire, of all balmy, exhila- 
rating places this weather ! But, dear thing I 
she went smiling to the block.' 

* They mostly do.' 

Althea looks pensively into the fire, burn- 
ing ill-temperedly in a little shoddy grate 
calculated to consume the minimum of coal. 

' I was told that it would be my turn 
next.' 

' Do not say such things, even in joke !' 

' But for you, it might have been. Yes ' 
— thoughtfully — 'till you came I had quite 
as much inclination towards love and mar- 



76 DEAR FAUSTINA 

riage as the average girl is usually credited 
with.' 

' T/ie average girl P 

' It is owing to your kind partiality that I 
seem above the average. It sounds incredible 
now, but I fully intended to marry. I re- 
member wondering how I should endure the 
parting from dear father. Till you lifted a 
corner of the veil ' 

' I could have lifted it a good deal more, if 
you had not stopped me.' 

* I know — I know ; but I felt I could not 
bear it. You need not be afraid. You told 
me quite enough.' 

Both feel that they are getting on a plane 
of emotion too high for everyday use, and 
by one consent descend to earth again. 

' Would you like to see your room Y 

It does not take long to see, being, indeed, 
of the closet-like proportions to be expected 
from the scale of the rest of the flat. And 
once again that feeling of ignoble dismay 



DEAR FAUSTINA 



assails Althea as she sees how entirely her 
boxes crowd it up, boiling over even into 
the squeezy passage. 

* I brought as little as I could,' she says 
apologetically ; ' most of my things are ware- 
housed.' 

* Do not distress yourself, beloved,' says 
Faustina airily. ' You will see they will all 
shake down quite comfortably in time. One 
has to be as economical of space as in a ship's 
cabin ; but how was a princess like you ' — 
laughing — ' to know that ? I will have a few 
boards knocked up over the bath in the bath- 
room, and your boxes, when we have un- 
packed them, can go there.' 

* Thank you,' says Althea gratefully. ' How 
much I have to learn ! How one overlays 
one's real needs with a load of stupid 
superfluities ! Why on earth ' — in a heat of 
iconoclastic fury — 'did I bring a dressing- 
bag?' 

' I would keep it locked, if I were you ; 



78 DEAR FAUSTINA 

and I would not put the bottles and things 
out. I do not know much about the servant ; 
she is new. Sarah, my last one, went off at 
a moment's notice ; she said she found a flat 
so intolerably dull. And I do not know 
much about this one ; the porter found her 
for me. I have not had time to look for one 
myself. I have had such phenomenal press 
of work these last few weeks. Lucky for me 
that I have, or I do not know how I should 
have borne the absence and suspense.' 

For the moment Althea does not answer 
to the whip. Her mind is entirely occupied 
by the thought of how scandalously self- 
indulgent her whole life-scheme hitherto has 
been, and by the more practical wonder of 
how the less — her bed-chamber — can be 
cajoled into containing the greater — her 
wardrobe. The problem is still unsolved 
when they sit down to dinner. 

' I know you do not care two straws what 
you eat' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 79 

This is not a very reassuring introduction 
to the feast, but Althea assents heartily : 

* Not two straws.' 

She really believes what she says, and tries 
to go on believing it, even after experience 
has made clear to her that ' not to care two 
straws ' what one eats, in the sense of dining 
unmurmuringly on a delicate cutlet with ex- 
quisitely prepared vegetables, argues a dif- 
ferent degree of heroism from that needed 
to face the gravies, bread sauces, and melted 
butters of the porter-found artiste of 4, More 
Mansions. However, it is surprising how well 
tinned apricots, oranges, and sardines can fill 
up the crevices left by the failure of more 
solid nutriment, and it is with a sense of true 
satisfaction in having begun the real working 
woman's existence — begun it, not in child's 
play, but in sober earnest — that Althea follows 
her friend to the drawing-room. Eliza has 
almost let the fire out, which, considering the 
universality of her functions, might seem ex- 



8o DEAR FAUSTINA 



cusable had the past dinner — the Paysandu 
tongue from Harrod's Stores, with its satel- 
lite oranges and sardines — required any 
cooking. 

The state of things is evidently not an un- 
common one, as Faustina thinks it worth no 
notice beyond a careless, ' You see, sweet, I 
have taken you at your word. As we begin, 
so we shall go on ; it is what you wished, 
isn't it ?' 

' Oh, yes, yes !' 

' You will get used to our little ways very 
quickly. When first I left home, I thought 
the food nasty and the beds hard ; and, of 
course, my antecedents were far less luxurious 
than yours.' 

* Were they ? Do not you think ' — watch- 
ing with a slight shiver Miss Bateson's in- 
different efforts to revive the all-but-dead 
flame — ' that if you held a newspaper before 
the fireplace it would create a draught of air 
up the chimney and make it burn ?' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 8i 

' Certainly, darling ! Give me the J^/re- 
brand ; it is on my writing-table.' 

Althea complies, and takes the journal in 
question from among a wilderness of papers, 
schedules, reports, such as reminds her of 
her mother's labours, and under which groans 
the disproportionately large and business-like 
writing-table, which occupies a third of the 
tiny sitting-room. 

Whether or not due to the inflammatory 
nature of the newspaper, in which it re- 
cognises a kindred element, certain it is 
that under its influence the all-but-extinct 
fire renews its youth, and races up the 
flue. 

Faustina, who has been kneeling before it, 
holding up the fostering organ of sedition, 
subsides, first on to her heels, and then into 
a sitting posture on the rug, with her head 
leant against Althea's knees. The attitude 
a little shocks the disciple, as an unseemly 
reversal of the fit order of things ; but 

6 



82 DEAR FAUSTINA 

Faustina's sigh of enjoyment arrests her 
protest. 

' How well I am rewarded for my super- 
human efforts to keep this one evening clear !' 

' Did it require superhuman efforts ?' — 
with respectful interest. 

' Didnt it /' 

' Do you never have a free evening ?' 

' Hardly ever.' 

' And shall I hardly ever have one, either ?' 
— with a sort of awed excitement. 

' That will depend upon the nature of your 
work.' 

'My work ! Have you thought out at all 
what you will put me to ?' 

' Put you to ! Darling, what an expres- 
sion !' 

* It is not in the least a figure of speech. 
I want you to put me to whatever you think 
me fittest, or I am afraid I ought to say least 
unfit for. I know ' — sadly — ' how very little 
untrained labour is worth.' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 83 

' It will not long remain untrained; contact 
with real life is the education best suited to 
an organism like yours.' 

' But how — HOW am I to get into contact 
with it ?' 

Faustina hesitates a moment. 

' You would be of immense advantage to 
the Cause upon the platform, if you could 
bring yourself to make the effort. I know 
that to you it would be a painful one at first. 
Your personality would ' 

' Oh, no, no — not that ! One platform is 
enough in a family.' 

' Will you try the pen, then ?' 

* I am afraid I should not be able to do 
much with it ; but I might try.' 

' You might make your coup d'essai in ^/^zs^ 
— putting a forefinger upon the newspaper, 
which, having fulfilled its mission of reviving 
the fire, now lies neglected on the hearth- 
rug. 

Althea takes it up. 



84 DEAR FAUSTINA 

' Is it a new paper ? I do not remember 
to have ever seen it before.' 

Miss Bateson gives a short laugh. 

* You would not be very likely to meet it 
in your milieu ; but it is new ; it has hardly 
begun to feel its feet yet. When it has, I 
think it will do valuable work ; the editor is 
a 7nate of mine, and would put in anything I 
sent him.' 

Althea reads for a few minutes ; then looks 
up and shakes her head : 

* I am sure that I could not do anything 
like this.' A moment later, hesitatingly : 
' Do you believe in conversion by calling 
names ?' 

* It might not convert you or me ; but 
there are classes and abuses who and which 
can only be reached by Billingsgate.' 

Miss Vane thinks over this aphorism for a 
moment or two ; but not being as yet, per- 
haps, quite ripe enough to assimilate its 
wisdom, she slides away from it. 



DEAR FAUSTINA 85 

* What I should like — what was my idea — 
would be to help you more directly in your 
own work — to ''devil" for you, as it were. 
I am not fit to take any initiative — at least, 
certainly not yet — but if I could lighten your 
burden in any degree, I should feel that I 
was not quite the fly on the cart-wheel, 
but that I was helping it to turn ever so 
little.' 

' It is very, very sweet of you ! As to my 
burden, my shoulders are broad ' — laughing 
— ' and, of course, your lovely presence — the 
sense of having your exquisite sympathy 
always to turn to — is unspeakably helpful in 
itself. There is another way, of course' — 
speaking less glibly — ' in which you could be 
of inestimable use to me and to the Cause.' 

* Is there ?' — very eagerly — ' tell it me.' 
'You might be of incalculable aid socially.' 
' SoczaUy ?' 

' Yes, socially. I am continually being 
brought up against the dead wall of not 



86 DEAR FAUSTINA 

being able to get at the Wire-pullers them- 
selves.' 

' I do not quite understand.' 

' When I am getting up any subject, social 
or political, I am often crippled by my in- 
ability to reach the people who could best 
post me in it. I have to fall back on Blue- 
books and Acts of Parliament, and such-like 
dry bones, when I could attain my end twice 
as efficiently, and with a hundredth part of 
the time and trouble, by half an hour's 
judicious picking of a Secretary's or Under- 
Secretary's brains.' 

' Only that you cannot get at them ?' 

' Very often I cannot ; you may be sure ' — 
with a shrewd laugh — ' that if I can, I do not 
let the grass grow under my feet' 

'But I do not see how I am to help 
you.' 

' Do not you ? That is because you do 
not realize the value of your own social 
charm. 



DEAR FAUSTINA 87 

' But even if I did ?' 

Faustina has raised her head from Althea's 
knees, and her eyes are looking with a very 
business-like, sharp brightness in them into 
her friend's. 

' I am shipwrecked upon two opposite 
rocks : either the planets I am in search of 
move in a different orbit to mine — to speak 
candidly, they do not and will not know me 
(I am getting a little mixed in my metaphors, 
but you must not mind that) — or else they 
know me too well, and flee when they see 
me coming.' 

' And how can I arrest their flight ?' 

' They would not suspect you ; your sweet 
face, your beautiful clothes ' 

' They are almost all warehoused.' 

' No doors would be shut to you. Your 
name, the status of your family — oh ! I do 
not undervalue these advantages — would 
open to you naturally houses into which I 
have — often unsuccessfully — to manoeuvre an 



88 DEAR FAUSTINA 

entrance. You are born to opportunities, 
which I have to struggle for in the sweat of 
my brow, but which, through you, I might 
utiHze almost as well as if they were my 
own.' 

Althea does not immediately answer. She 
looks into the fire with a cloudy brow. 

' Do you mean,' she says at last, ' that I 
am to go into society with the object of 
taking people off their guard and surprising 
their confidence ?' 

' You may put it that way if you choose, 
though in justice to myself — with a slightly 
wounded intonation — ' I must say that I think 
my suggestion was capable of a nobler con- 
struction.' 

Althea remains for another minute or two 
in silent and distinctly unpleasant thought, 
nor do her friend's next words much improve 
her mental position : 

' You must remember, darling, that I did 
not volunteer the proposal, if you can give it 



DEAR FAUSTINA 89 

so definite a name. You asked me to tell 
you how, in my opinion, you could best serve 
the Cause, and 1 answered as directly and 
truthfully as I knew how ; but since the 
idea is so repellent to you, let us never 
return to it.' 

There is a short interval of awkward 
silence, ended by the younger woman break- 
ing into apologetic speech. 

' You make me feel as if I were such a 
moral coward ! I dare say that my objection 
to your plan was only due to personal dis- 
taste, shrinking from the disagreeable. You 
must own that at the first blush it had a little 
look of treachery. Will you let me think 
it over, and try to disentangle the merely 
personal motive from the other ? I confess 
it is not a pleasant idea to me ; but, after all ' 
— reflectively — * it is not the pleasant that 
I have come to seek.' 

The last clause of this sentence is scarcely 
susceptible of a flattering interpretation as 



90 DEAR FAUSTINA 

regards Miss Bateson's surroundings ; but 
the latter is so much reHeved by the, at least, 
partially restored docility of her catechumen 
that she does not quarrel with it. 



91 



CHAPTER V. 

The joint establishment in More Mansions 
is now five days old. Althea has discovered 
that many things, which she has hitherto con- 
sidered as much a matter of course as the 
diurnal revolution of the earth, are for the 
future only to be looked upon as delightful 
and unexpected accidents, or as to be done 
without altogether. She has discovered how 
very late a general servant can get up in the 
morning ; how very cold a hot bath can be ; 
and how crumpled a tablecloth. She is also 
in a position to decide between the com- 
parative claims to victory over the nose of 
the two detestable smells of water spilt on 



92 DEAR FAUSTINA 

a stove, and of paraffin slopped over a cheap 
lamp. Her diet, since her rebellious palate 
is not yet tamed to accept the alternate and 
sometimes mingled greases, rawnesses, and 
burnings of Eliza's infant art, over which 
Faustina's rides serenely victorious, has been 
chiefly that of a monkey in the tropics — viz., 
oranges, bananas, and cocoa-nuts. Since at 
the end of nearly a week of this innutritious 
fare she is not in perceptibly worse case than 
at the beginning, she makes the reflection 
how grossly she must have overeaten herself 
during the whole of her former life. 

As to Faustina, she belongs to that class 
of persons — there is a large one — to whom 
the minor discomforts of life are matters of 
absolute indifference. Her iron health and 
steel nerves enable her to face almost any 
kind of food without aversion ; nor is it 
apparently of the least moment to her 
whether the spoon with which she sups her 
porridge is misty or bright. 



DEAR FAUSTINA 



93 



Once or twice, it is true, she has broken into 
tender expletives of admiration at the heroism 
with which her friend braves the change for 
the worse in her material conditions ; but 
these expressions have always been attended 
with an implication that to one cast in 
Althea's mould the material ' worse ' is more 
than balanced by the moral * better.' 

Once or twice she has also given utterance 
to a slight intention of ' sacking ' Eliza if she 
does not improve. But though this condition 
of her stay is never fulfilled, that unsuccessful 
artiste stays on. Were she a good cook, 
indeed, her powers would be severely tried by 
the erratic nature of the times and seasons to 
which she has to subdue her art. In 4, More 
Mansions no food either is or is supposed to 
be served at any particular hour. The dinner 
which on Monday is prematurely snatched 
between two meetings is on Tuesday pro- 
rogued to midnight, after a concert or 
dramatic entertainment at a people's hall, or 



94 DEAR FAUSTINA 



some heated political or social platform work 
at a federated women's club. 

The project of social utility for Althea has, 
to her relief, not again been broached ; but 
she cannot reproach herself with having been 
idle. In the short and breathless intervals 
of their public appearances she has ' devilled ' 
incessantly for Faustina, the heat of her zeal 
more than making up for any lack of practice. 
She has been the means of spreading a great 
deal of inflammatory literature, against which, 
if her taste revolts, her sense of blazing in- 
dignation at the abuses forcibly, if somewhat 
scurrilously, lashed carries her triumphantly 
through. Occasionally, it is true, she utters 
a hesitating protest. 

' Do you think we need be ^ut^e so 
abusive ?' she asks, pausing over a sentence 
even more violently vituperative than its 
predecessors. 

' One cannot cure a gangrene with rose- 
water,' replies Miss Bateson forcibly. 



DEAR FAUSTINA 95 



' True, but ' — still more tentatively — ' do 
not you think our arguments are weighty 
enough in themselves to be even more 
effective if put temperately ?' 

' No great battle was ever won with 
wooden swords or pea-shooters.' 

* What a born fighter you are, Faustina !' 
says Althea, leaning back for a moment's 
rest in her chair, and looking with a half- 
amused and yet whole-hearted admiration up 
at her companion. ' No doubt you are right 
— you who have given up your whole life to 
fight this Hydra. It was a grand thing to 
do ' — her voice slightly quivering in the 
ardour of her affectionate homage. 

' It is not grand when you cannot help 
doing a thing. My heart burned within me, 
as the old Book says ; and, grand or no, it 
is an easy thing to do, now that I have you 
to support me with your exquisite faith and 
courage, after having worked alone all my 
life.' 



96 DEAR FAUSTINA 

'Alone ! But you had Miss Lewis.' 

' She was a faddist ; she went her own 

selfish way. I never was so disillusioned 

about anyone in my life.' 

Althea pauses, once again, in spite of 

herself, jarred. 

* How soon do you expect to be dis- 
illusioned about me ?' 

'How soon? When all the seas run 
dry' 

Such a declaration cannot help but be 
followed by an embrace, and then they return 
to business. 

* Now that you have ^iven me the heads, 
told me the sense in which you wish these 
letters answered, I can get through them 
perfectly well by myself I am really grow- 
ing quite expert with the typewriter. How 
long do you expect to be away ?' 

' You may be quite sure as short a time as 
I possibly can ' — using the tone with which 
in old days that contemptible survival, a man 



DEAR FAUSTINA g>j 

in love, was wont to part from his mistress. 
' 1 would take you with me, only that ' 

' Only that what ?' 

' 1 think it might be premature ; as I have 
explained to you, the handful of friends I 
am going to meet and 1 are in the habit 
of dealing with a class of subjects which, 
though they need airing badly, 1 think 
you are as yet scarcely ripe for the discus- 
sion of 

' I am ripening very fast. Well, I am 
willing to abide by your judgment.' 

With an emotional encomium on her sweet 
persuadeableness, Miss Bateson bids her 
friend farewell ; and Althea settles down 
without an instant's delay to the typewriter. 

TT W ^ ■«• "7r 

Two hours later a man rings the bell of 
No. 4. One would have thought that, if he 
were an intending caller upon Miss Bateson, 
he might have spared himself the trouble of 
the climb after seeing the ' Out ' appended to 

7 



98 DEAR FAUSTINA 

her name downstairs. Yet it cannot be to 
Miss Vane that he means to pay that civility ; 
at least, there is no look of recognition on 
her face when she appears in the doorway 
in answer to his summons. But, then, her 
whole manner is so bouleverse, her expression 
one of such preoccupied consternation, that 
it is quite possible she might have failed to 
recognize her own nearest relatives. 

' I beg your pardon ' — taking off his hat 
with a very well-bred air — ' I must apologize 
for my intrusion ; but though I saw that 
Miss Bateson' was out, I thought I might 
leave a message with her servant.' 

' The servant f — regarding him with a 
distraught look. ' Something has happened 
to her ; she has been taken suddenly ill.' 

' Indeed !' 

' I was afraid to leave her, or would have 
sent the porter for a doctor.' 

' Could I be of any use .^' 

' Oh, thank you ' — with an eyebeam of 



DEAR FAUSTINA 99 

heartfelt relief and gratitude — ' indeed you 
could.' 

'Is it Sarah?' 

* No ; Sarah left a week ago.' 

He smiles slightly — a smile which, were 
she less flurried, might convey to her mind 
that the tenure of domestic service in More 
Mansions was not apt to be a long one. 

' I was writing in the drawing-room, when 
I heard a loud noise as of something very 
heavy falling. You know that one hears 
everything very plainly in these flats, and I 
rushed into the kitchen, and found her lying 
on the floor, with her head under the table.' 

* WM her head under the table ?' 

' Yes ; I think it must be a fit ; but, as I have 
never seen a person in a fit, I cannot be sure.' 

She is speaking very rapidly, and her 
troubled eye casts at him a hurried look of 
inquiry as to whether he may be better in- 
formed in this branch of science than she. 

'May I come in and have a look at her ? 



loo DEAR FAUSTINA 

I might lift her up, and, whatever ails her, I 
am sure her head ought not to be left under 
the table.' 

They have so far been standing on the 
threshold, Althea with the door in her 
hand ; but she now joyfully gives ground, 
and, fully admitting her deliverer, leads him 
with precipitate steps to the scene of the 
tragedy. The kitchen — a cupboard in size 
— is seen, when they reach it, to be nearly 
filled by the prone body of a woman, who is 
stretched flat upon the tiles. From under 
the table proceed stertorous sounds, which 
prove that at least she is not dead. 

' She has been making those dreadful 
noises ever since I first found her,' says 
Althea in an agitated voice. 

Her companion's answer is first to stoop 
over, then kneel down on one knee beside, 
the object of their attention. He lifts her 
head carefully, and looks scrutinizingly into 
the flushed and disfigured features. 



DEAR FAUSTINA loi 

* /y it a fit ?' asks the girl in an awestruck 
whisper. 

He shakes his head, and, replacing the 
dishevelled head on the floor, rises again to 
his feet. 

* You need not make yourself uneasy ; 
there is nothing the matter with her.' 

' Nothing the matter with her 7 

' Nothing, beyond being dead drunk.' 

Once again, in defiance of good manners, 
Althea repeats his words, but this time 
accompanied by a start of shocked horror. 

' Dead drunk ! But those awful noises 
she is making ?' 

' They are only snores.' She is struck 
dumb. ' Did you never see a woman under 
the inspiration of gin before ?' he asks, with 
an accent of interested curiosity. 

' No — yes— I suppose so, in the street.' 

' I have seen a good many.' 

' What am I to do with her ?' gazing down 
in stupefaction at the vanquished votary of 



DEAR FAUSTINA 



alcohol. ' I do not know when — it may be 
quite late — Faus — Miss Bateson will be back.' 

' If you will allow me, I will carry this 
woman into her bedroom and lay her on her 
bed to sleep it off. She will be all right when 
she wakes.' 

' Oh, would you ? I should be grateful ! 
But can you manage it alone, without help ? 
Let me lift her feet' 

' Pray do not touch her !' — hastily — ' I am 
quite up to carrying her. She will not be 
heavy. These sort of women never are.' 

He is as good as his word, and, having 
fished out and grasped with adroit strength 
the recumbent Eliza, bears her in triumph to 
her bower. Though of a wizened, East-End 
type, she is, like any other perfectly inert mass, 
a good weight, and for a minute after laying 
her down he draws his breath a little hard. 

' I am afraid you found her very heavy ?' 

' Not at all, thank you.' 

' And you think ' — looking at the still 



DEAR FAUSTINA 103 

snoring heap with an expression in which the 
compassion tries conscientiously to master 
the disgust, and is not completely victorious 
— ' that when she wakes she will be all 
right ?' 

' In all probability.' 

' But supposing that she is not all right ? 
That when she wakes up she is still intoxi- 
cated ? and that she tries to set fire to the 
flat, or something of the sort? If Miss 
Bateson is not come back, if I am alone, 
how shall I be able to cope with her ?' 

' She will probably not stir before to- 
morrow morning ; but, if you would allow 
me, I could obviate any danger of the kind 
you fear by staying with you — remaining 
here till Miss Bateson's return.' 

His proposal makes her look at him — she 
can scarcely be said to have done so before — 
in order to see whether the source from which 
this suggestion flows makes it seem a pre- 
ferable one to the alternative of a tete-ct-tite 



T04 DEAR FAUSTINA 

with Eliza. Unless 'burglar' or 'murderer' be 
written in letters of fire upon the brow of the 
proposer, it can scarcely be a less desirable 
one. Apparently her eyes find no such pro- 
hibitory sentence inscribed, for she answers 
without any perceptible hesitation : 

' It would be an act of real Christian 
charity. But are you sure that it is not 
putting you to inconvenience ? — that you can 
spare the time ?' 

' Perfectly sure.' 

She throws what he thinks, what most 
people would think, an extremely pretty look 
of silent gratitude at him, and after a moment 
says interrogatively : 

' We need not stay here, need we ? In 
her present state she cannot do any harm ?' 

' None.' 

' And the walls are so thin that we should 
hear in an instant if she stopped snoring ?' 

' Should we ?' 

Without more delay, she leads him away 



DEAR FA USTINA 105 

into the drawing-room. At her invitation 
he sits down. She does the same, and at 
once, for the first time, they both begin to 
feel shy. To neither of them is it a very 
usual sensation. Althea has lived in 'the 
world ' all her life, and that one scanninof look 
she had cast at him but now has revealed 
to her that, if one can trust to appearances, 
so has he. He is quite aware, with a 
tickling inward amusement, that he had 
been weighed in the balance against a 
drunken cook ; but he feels no resentment. 
It is impossible since they have probably a 
long spell of each other's undiluted company 
ahead of them, that they can content them- 
selves with a reciprocal silent appraising. 
They must find a topic of conversation ; but 
in their absolute ignorance of each other, an 
ignorance which extends even to their very 
names, what can it be ? With the superior 
ready - wittedness of woman, Althea hits 
upon one. 



io6 DEAR FAUSTINA 

' You will excuse my asking, but are you 
by any chance the editor of the Firebrand ?' 

They seem fated to re echo each other's 
utterances : 

' The editor of the ** Firebrand'' ! Well, no, 
I am not' 

In answering he has, or seems to have, 
flushed slightly, a transient heat of com- 
plexion which in a moment fades into a 
smile, but which tells her that her * hit ' has 
been anything but a ' palpable ' one. 

' Might I ask you in return why you 
thought I was ?' 

' My reason was a ridiculously inadequate 
one ' — the flush is hers now. ' You said that 
you had a message to leave for Miss Bate- 
son ; and before she went out she said she 
hoped the — the person we are speaking of 
would not call in her absence ; so I put two 
and two together.' 

* When one does that, my experience is 
that they almost always msik.^ five' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 107 

' They evidently have in this case.' 

He seems glad of an excuse to laugh — a 
laugh which takes him helplessly, like a cough, 
at intervals throughout the following hour, 
and which he vainly tries to explain away. 

She endeavours with equal futility to 
palliate her mistake. 

' I need not tell you that I have never seen 

Mr. I do not even know his name. 

Miss Bateson always speaks of him by a — 
a sobriquet.' 

'Yes, I know she does.' 

His eye rests on the typewriter, and thence 
flashes back for an instant to Althea's hatless 
head, drawing the obvious induction from 
both. 

' You are staying with M iss Bateson ?' 

' I am living with her.' 

' Oh, indeed I' 

It is clear that he is trying to keep his 
words politely colourless, but interested en- 
lightenment will pierce through their neutral 



io8 DEAR FAUSTINA 

tint, so much so that Althea cannot forbear 
putting a question in her turn. 

* Did you know my — my predecessor, Miss 
Lewis ?' 

Again that recurrent, helpless laugh seems 
inclined to master him, but instead he 
masters it. 

*0h, rather! I beg your pardon — yes, I 
did know that lady.' 

Miss Vane turns it over in her mind 
whether it would be strictly honourable to 
the absent to ask this young man what her 
forerunner — a forerunner whose light had 
evidently gone out in darkness, and about 
whom F^austina maintains for the most part 
a reticence divined to be hostile — was like* 
She decides that it would not. 

* I not only knew Miss Lewis, but Aer 
predecessor.' 

* //ad she a predecessor ?' 

* Oh yes, more than one.' 

Althea starts slightly. She feels as if a 



DEAR FAUSTINA 109 

sharp pebble had hit her — small, but unex- 
pected. It takes her a moment or two to 
recover. 

' You are evidently an old acquaintance of 
Miss Bateson.' 

' Very old. I have known her since I was 
in petticoats. Has she never mentioned me 
to you ?' 

' She may have done * — a tiny smile turning 
up the corners of her mouth — * but you must 
remember that I ' 

' Of course — of course ! May I give you 
my card ?' 

It is a nice and difficult feat in the lesser 
manners to inform yourself as to a person 
under his or her very nose, but Althea, though 
it makes her feel shy, does it gracefully. 

' Thank you ' — laying down the card on 
the table beside her, her consciousness en- 
riched by the knowledge that she is in the 
company of Mr. John Trecothick Drake. 
* My name is Althea Vane.' 



no DEAR FAUSTINA 

This is good as far as It goes, but at first 
It does not seem going to take them much 
further. In her world Althea has met 
Drakes, and since her first impression that 
he belongs to the same world as herself has 
now grown to conviction, he has no doubt 
come across Vanes there ; but how he may 
be related to /ler Drakes is as obscure to her 
as what affinity she may have to Ats Vanes 
is to him. 

After a moment she begins, with delicate 
subtlety that yet looks simple, to explore 
further. 

* You have a West-Country sound.' 
'Yes, I come from Devonshire.' 
' So does Miss Bateson. One always ' — 
smiling — ' has the silly notion that two people 
who Inhabit the same county or continent 
must live cheek by jowl.' 

' That Is exactly how we did live. Miss 
Bateson is the daughter of — of one of our 
nearest neighbours.' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 



' Oh-h !' 

The ' Oh-h !' is thoughtful, lengthened, and 
expresses enlightenment. If her vis-a-vis, 
with his high nose, his admirable coat, and 
faultless utterance, differ strangely from such 
of Faustina's men friends as have hitherto 
met Altheas eye and ear — friends whose 
speech is either heavily bebrogued, or gives 
that supremacy which it has lately gained 
among the masses to the vowel / — the ex- 
planation lies in the fact of their having 
sported together in childhood among the 
Devonshire buttercups. The thought had 
certainly crossed her mind — instantly and 
remorsefully chased away for its unworthi- 
ness — that he is too much like a gentleman 
to be an intimate of Faustina's. 

' Then, you know her family T 

' Oh yes, of course.' 

' They are, I believe, not — not at all worthy 
of her T 

' Has she told you so ?' 



112 DEAR FAUSTINA 

' No-o — oh no, certainly not. She would 
not condescend to say anything in detraction 
of them beyond — beyond ' 

He waits, politely expectant, but not help- 
ing her to a word, as he might so easily, do. 
She has to set off upon a remodelled sentence : 

' I gathered it from the fact of her having 
had to leave home through her faithfulness 
to her convictions. If the species of perse- 
cution to which she was exposed ' 

' Persecution /' 

' Yes, persecution ' — firmly. 

He looks upon the floor, and once again 
she has reason to suspect that he is struggling 
with a laugh. 

' They certainly did not hit it off particu- 
larly well.' 

The entire lack of fervour in this utterance 
brings the blood to her face. 

*As far as I have heard, light and dark- 
ness never have hit it off particularly well 
since the world began.' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 113 

He lifts his downcast orbs, and looks at 
her with a pleased gravity. 

' Miss Bateson and I are companions in 
iniquity,' he says deliberately. ' If her family 
are not worthy of her, neither are mine of 
me.' 

She glances at him with a quickened 
interest. Hitherto his outside advantages 
have done him rather disservice than other- 
wise with her, as proclaiming him to belong 
to that rdgirne which she has renounced. 

' Do you mean ' 

' I mean ' 

The ting of the electric bell breaks into 
his answer. Faustina has returned. 



[ 114 ] 



CHAPTER VI. 

' So that is the new enthusiasm, is it ?' 

The collapse of her cook has been ex- 
plained to Miss Bateson, and has been 
received with that philosophic indifference by 
which she is wont to baffle the lesser blows 
of fate. 

' She is no loss. Until I find another, we 
can turn into an A B C for food. Is not it a 
blessing for me ' — addressing the man — ' that 
Althea does not care a straw what she eats ?' 
Althea's spirit is not yet so chastened as to 
escape a slight prick of indignation at hearing 
her Christian name thus made free with to a 
perfect stranger ; and partly to conceal an 



DEAR FAUSTINA 115 

irritation of which she is ashamed, partly 
out of deHcacy, she leaves the two friends 
together. 

The man lights a cigarette, and, leaning 
his shoulder against the chimney-piece, gives 
utterance to the sentence above quoted : 

' So that is the new enthusiasm, is it ?' 

' If you choose to put it so' — lighting up 
too. 

' It is a more comprehensible ardour than 
the last ; but if you will excuse my putting it 
so, she does not look cut quite on our pattern.' 

' Our /' — with a withering glance at the 
elegance of his tout ensemble. 

' Yes, our ! I suppose I may be allowed to 
have given proofs of my right of citizenship, 
even though a few old clothes survive from 
my unregenerate state. Are you determined 
never to take me to your heart until I am 
dressed wholly from a slop-shop Y His tone 
is one of careless intimacy, slightly touched 
with an inoffensive impertinence. 



ii6 DEAR FAUSTINA 

' However much her outside may beHe 
her ' 

* I am far from objecting to it' 

' She is one of us !' 

' Is she ?' 

'She is prepared to go as far as anybody. 
She is very keen about the vote, perfectly 
sound upon the Marriage Question, and her 
opinion of men is, if possible, lower than 
mine.' 

He receives this last thrust w^th perfect 
equanimity. 

' She is a very valuable acquisition. And 
how long do you think she will last ?' 

' Last f 

' Yes ; how long before she follows poor 
Lewis to Limbo ?' 

The question is a provocative one ; but 
Faustina's temper is nearly, if not quite, up 
to the level of her nerves and her digestion. 

' She asked me that question herself this 
very day.' 



DEAR FAUSTINA ii'] 

* And what did you answer ?' 

' It is not of the least consequence what 
I answered.' 

He stands thoughtful, the end of his 
cigarette between his finger and thumb* 

' In what direction do you mean to utilize 
her ? She does not look much like a hewer 
of wood or drawer of water.' 

* It is very kind of you to be so much 
interested about her. But do not dis- 
quiet yourself ; she will find her proper 
sphere.' 

' What is her history ? How did you get 
hold of her .-^ Is she an isolated fact? and 
if not, how did her relations allow you to 
spirit her away ?' 

' It was no case of spiriting ; she has 
broken with her family deliberately for the 
sake of her opinions.' 

' Like you !' 

There is a suspicion of the same laugh as 
had puzzled Althea in his voice, but Faustina 



ii8 DEAR FAUSTINA 

apparently does not notice it, unless to it is 
due the tartness of her response. 

' Like you, too ; only that her vocation is a 
much more genuine one than yours.' 

* Thank you.' 

'Not that you' — relenting — 'have not 
given some good proofs of your sincerity.' 

' Thank you.' 

' But that paltry levity of yours makes one 
doubt that you can ever be really in earnest 
about anything.' 

' Thank you. I am growing so surfeited 
with sweets that I think I shall wish you 
good-evening.' 

Apparently they understand each other, 
for she lets him go without remonstrance. 

' What is the editor of the Firebrand like T 
asks Althea that same evening, apparently 
apropos of nothing. 

* Like ! How do you mean ? 

' Like to look at. Is he prepossessing 
in appearance ?' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 119 

Faustina's wide-awake eyes open even 
more fully than usual. 

'Prepossessing! Good Lord, no! Why 
should he be ? He is a man of the people, 
and he looks it. Why do you ask ?' 

' You have mentioned him so often, that 1 
thought it would be as well to have some 
idea of his appearance, in case he called when 
you were out,' replies Miss Vane, not quite 
candidly. 

Faustina hangs her dark head luxuriously 
backwards over the top of her chair — it is 
one of her rare moments of inaction — and 
blows the smoke of her cigarette through her 
nostrils. 

' Prepossessing !' she repeats presently. 
' Darling, have not you yet learnt that we 
workers have no time to spare for the 
graces ?' 

' Then, your visitor of to-day ' — a slight 
slowness in bringing out the query — ' is 
evidently not a worker ?' 



I20 DEAR FAUSTINA 

[ He looked a preposterous dandy,' replies 
Miss Bateson, with a scorn that yet sounds 
lenient ; ' but then, as you know, the habits 
of a lifetime are not shaken off in a day ; and 
it is Sunday, isn't it ? Oh yes ! the bells 
here in London never give one a chance of 
forgetting that fact. But despite his silly 
fopperies, there is stuff — yes, real stuff — in 
John Drake.' 

' How has he shown it ?' 

Faustina sits up, as if to give a more 
marked emphasis to her reply. 

* By chucking twenty thousand pounds a 
year.' Althea has sat up, too, her eyes alight 
with coming admiration. ' His father owns a 
chemical factory in the East End, and when 
John found the poisonous conditions under 
which the hands spent their lives, he refused 
to touch a penny of money wrung from 
the wretchedness of hundreds of his fellow- 
creatures ; and as his father entirely declined 
to listen to any suggestions for bettering 



DEAR FAUSTINA 121 

those conditions, he threw up the whole 
thing, and old Trecothick has since abso- 
lutely disinherited him.' 

* Trecothick ! I thought his name was 
Drake f 

' His mother was a Drake ; and the old 
sweater was so pleased at having married 
into one of the best Devonshire families that 
he took her name.' 

' Twenty thousand a year !' repeats Althea 
in an awed voice. ' How magnificent ! And 
what injustice one does people !' 

' Do not fall into the other extreme, dearest, 
and make a hero of him! He is still better 
off than five-sixths of the human race. His 
mother's money — she died when he was a 
child — came to him. It amounts to several 
hundreds a year.' 

'Several hundreds ! But he gave up many 
thousands !' 

' Yes, he did ; and I am sure I have no 
wish to minimize the sacrifice. I only wanted 



122 DEAR FAUSTINA 

to guard you against your generous tendency 
to idealize — a tendency by which I have so 
magnificently profited.' 

' He hinted at some vital difference of 
opinion with his family ; but I never, never 
dreamed ' She breaks off. 

'What did he tell you .^ In what con- 
nection did he introduce the subject T 

' We were talking of you.' 

' Of me 7—2. little sharply. 

' He was saying that he had been wronged 
by his family in the same way as you had 
been by yours.' 

Faustina's cheek - bones take on for a 
second a dim, dark flush. 

' Did he tell you anything more about me ?' 

' He said that you were the daughter of 
one of his nearest neighbours.' 

The flush pales into a relieved, dry smile. 

' That was a euphemism. I am the daughter 
of old Trecothick's bailiff — none of your 
gentlemen bailiffs : a common working farmer. 



DEAR FAUSTINA 123 

I wonder that John Drake has not known 
me long enough to know that I glory in the 
class from which I spring. If I were not a 
working woman by necessity, I should cer- 
tainly be one by choice.' 

Althea acknowledges this noble sentiment 
by an appreciative look; but that her thoughts 
are still rather with the absent hero than the 
present heroine is made plain by her next 
words : 

' Has he any profession ?' 

' I believe he used to suppose that he 
hung about the Law Courts, but his real 
work is in connection with the Settlement 
down at Canning Town. He lives there for 
months at a time, organizing meetings, giving 
lectures, and so forth.' 

'Appearances are deceitful,' says Althea, 
with soft thoughtfulness. ' He does not look 
like it.' 

' Probably he thinks that you do not look 
like it, either.' 



24 DEAR FAUSTINA 



The topic drops ; but it gives Althea a 
new feeling towards the subject of it when 
next he appears on her horizon. 

' Darling,' says Faustina, one morning 
after the union of the friends has lasted for 
a month, ' did not you tell me that you 
wished to visit your family ? Would not 
to-day be a good opportunity ? I could 
spare you better to-day than most days, be- 
cause I have a person coming to speak to 
me on business in the afternoon ?' 

' Business that I am not to hear ?' replies 
Althea, with affectionate playfulness at the 
absurdity of the idea. 

'Business that you are not to hear ! How 
can you be so absurd ? My beloved ' — seeing 
a look of unaffected surprise on Althea's face 
at the unwonted tartness of her tone — ' you 
make me wince when you hint at such a 
possibility as any concealment between us, 
even in play.' 

' To-day will suit me admirably. Dear 



DEAR FAUSTINA 125 



things !' — with an accent of hesitating tender- 
ness. ' I do not know whether they will 
care to see me ; but I shall be very, mry 
glad to see them again.' 

Faustina turns away, having summoned 
up an expression of suffering to her strong 
face. 

'You need not be jealous,' says the other, 
laying a reassuring hand upon her com- 
panion's shoulder. ' Fondly as I love them, 
I still think I have chosen the better part.' 

She says it with conviction — says it over 
to herself on her way — even while little 
waves of expectant, if rather nervous, pleasure 
keep running over her — even when, from 
the top of her bus, she sees Aunt Lavinia 
rolling along Piccadilly in her victoria, un- 
conscious of the eye of her ddclassd young 
relative stooping admiringly, yet not en- 
viously, down upon the feathers in her 
bonnet and the little coal-black toy Spitz by 
her side from her vulgar eyrie. 



126 DEAR FAUSTINA 

When the bus stops, she steps gingerly 
down the dirty stair, anxiously guarding her 
skirts. 

She has dressed carefully, being anxious 
not to prejudice her family still further against 
the line of life she has adopted by any de- 
terioration in her appearance. 

There is still a short distance to be walked 
before reaching the house, in a good Mayfair 
street, which the William Botelers have 
taken on lease. The William Botelers ! 
How hard it is to picture Clare as one half 
of ' the William Botelers '! 

As she nears her goal, misgivings get the 
upper hand of hope in her breast. What 
sort of a welcome will she get ? She has 
come unasked. 

After all, how little notice they have taken 
of her since the schism that separated her 
from them ! She has written three — or is it 
four ? — times to Edward, and been answered 
— for it ts an answer — by blank silence. 



DEAR FAUSTINA 127 



Fanny has sent her nothing but the con- 
ventional love that nobody gives and nobody 
cares to take, in Clare's last letter ; and 
Clare ! — Clare's two letters have had that 
aroma of sweet, tactful kindness which 
breathes from all her gracious words and 
deeds ; but, oh, how unlike they have been to 
the close-scribbled outpourings of her girl- 
hood, when the sisters happened to be parted 
for even a day! In these she has 'writ 
large,' to hide the poverty of her topics, and 
even so has had to swell one starved page 
by comments on a political incident. Two 
years ago, what world -convulsion not affect- 
ing their two selves would have found a 
place in their crowded pages ? 

She has reached the door, and her heart 
beats quickly as she rings. How many of 
these now-alarming dear ones will she have 
to face ? William — the excellent, insufferable 
William — will, thank God ! be certainly at 
the Stock Exchange ; Edward at Balliol, 



128 DEAR FAUSTINA 

Thomas at Eton. It is only gentle Clare 
and childish Fanny whom she is needlessly 
bracing her nerves to meet. Yet the trepi- 
dation of her spirit does not subside as she 
sits in the empty drawing-room, while the 
butler goes in search of his mistress. 

The room is softly brilliant in dazzlingly 
clean paint and gilding, delicate pompadour 
satin hangings, wedding-presents, and count- 
less flowers. It strikes Althea, as she sits 
there, how little time it takes one entirely to 
change one's standpoint in life. It is scarcely 
five weeks since she left civilization, and yet 
it is with something of the wondering stare of 
an inhabitant of Poplar or Stratford that she is 
surveying the pretty luxuries of her sister's 
room. She has seen scores of such rooms, 
and knows that there exist in London tens of 
thousands of them, though perhaps, as a 
rule, not quite so clean, since it is only a 
small minority that have been freshly de- 
corated by an ardent bridegroom for his bride. 



DEAR FAUSTINA 129 



' Thee I this is nice !' 

Clare has entered without her visitor hear- 
ing her step, and in a second her warm arms 
are round the runagate. With a sort of sob 
in her throat the latter realizes that Clare, at 
all events, is all right. 

* Will you have me to luncheon ?' 

' Willi? 

' And shall I have the luck to keep you to 
myself?' 

The other hesitates. 

' Fanny is here, of course.' 

' Has Fanny begun to count ? She never 
used to do so.' 

' And Ned is up for the night.' 

' Dear old Ned ! How glad I shall be to 
see him !' 

The ejaculation is a quavering one, and 
falls rather flat. 

' And I have invited a girl, a friend of his, 
at his request, to meet him.' 

' A girl ? Oh !' 

9 



130 DEAR FAUSTINA 

' A very nice girl — Miss Delafield.' 
' Lady Lanington's daughter ?' 

* Yes ; do not you remember her ball last 
year, when the electric light went out ?' 

' Perfectly.' 

For a minute silence falls between them, 
Althea, and probably Clare, too, musing upon 
the gulf that parts them from that darkened 
entertainment. 

' How pretty your house is !' 

' It will be, I hope. We are rather in the 
rough still.' 

* In the rough /' — smiling sardonically. 
There is perhaps something unintentionally 

challenging in Miss Vane's tone, for her 
sister looks frightened. 

* I dare say the expression applied to a 
room like this sounds ridiculously affected to 
you, who have been seeing so much of the 
'' seamy side " of life. You would ' — with 
an apprehensive glance towards the door — 
* hardly have time to tell me anything about 



DEAR FAUSTINA 131 

it before luncheon — I mean, it would not be 
worth while to begin, would it ?' 

' Do not be afraid. I am not going to 
begin.' 

She says it with a laugh, but it is a mirth 
that covers a good deal of wounded feeling. 
They are both relieved at Fanny's entrance. 
Fanny is quite glad to see Althea ; and so 
she is to see the two luncheon-seeking young 
men who presently appear ; so she is to see 
Miss Delafield. The latter is one of those 
lofty-statured, porcelain-textured, exquisitely 
groomed young creatures who may be seen 
on any fine morning, between February and 
August, in considerable numbers, doing in- 
finite credit to their country in the shops and 
on the pavement of Sloane Street. 

Sisters know each other terribly well, and 
it is obvious to the intruding one that Mrs. 
Boteler's anxiety as to herself is heightened 
since the arrival of ' Edward's friend.' Her 
look travels oftener doorwards, and presently 



132 DEAR FAUSTINA 

Althea sees her slip quietly out of the room. 
She knows as well as if she had been told in 
words that Clare has heard Edward's foot on 
the stairs, and is hasting to tell him of the 
culprit's presence, so that his jaw may not 
drop too perceptibly on catching sight of her. 

The precaution is not so very successful, 
after all. Nothing can be more chilling than 
the eye and hand with which he salutes her. 
She feels so hurt and mortified that, when 
they go down to luncheon, she chooses a seat 
as far from him as the size of the table will 
admit. 

She finds herself beside one of the other 
young men. She knows him slightly, but he 
is so entirely in the dark as to her present 
mode of life, so determined that she is living 
with her sister, it is so impossible to enlighten 
him without annoying her family by her 
revelation, that their talk is one series of 
misunderstandings on his part, and parrying 
awkward questions on hers. He cannot 



DEAR FAUSTINA 133 

think what has happened to her, and, as 
soon as courtesy will admit, turns with relief 
to his other neighbour, Fanny. Upon the 
sunny brooklet of her small glib talk, vaguely 
flattering, as every man who converses with 
her feels, though none could explain why, 
Althea presently sees and hears him sail away 
twenty knots an hour. 

Since the chair on her left is filled by an 
old cousin of William Boteler's, who had 
come in late, and is too much occupied 
pouring scraps of Boteler family news into 
Clare's attentive ear to notice her, she is left 
to the enjoyment of her luncheon, which 
seems to her extraordinarily delicious. She 
reproaches herself for the acute pleasure her 
palate derives from it, contrasting herself 
with Faustina. 

After the ladies have returned to the 
drawing - room, she finds Miss Delafield 
accosting her, and civilly recalling herself to 
her memory. 



134 DEAR FAUSTINA 

They are both still standing, when, the 
men having immediately followed them, 
Edward makes straight as a die for the little 
group. At the same moment the youth who 
had so resolvedly misunderstood Althea at 
luncheon asks Miss Delafield a question, and 
she, turning a little to answer it, leaves the 
brother and sister tete-a-tHe. 

' Can you spare me a little bit of notice 
from metal more attractive ?' Althea asks in 
a friendly if rather nervous low voice. 

'Yes,' he answers; 'I wish to speak to 
you. Would you mind coming into the back 
drawing-room for a moment ?' 

She gives glad assent, and follows him. 

' I am flattered,' she says, with a slight 
meaning smile thrown back towards the 
room they have left. ' This is a compliment! 
Dear old boy ! how pleasant it is to see you 
again !' 

When you have led a person apart with 
no other design than to administer to him or 



DEAR FAUSTINA 135 

her a pungent snub, it is awkward to have 
the conversation opened in such a spirit as 
this by the intended recipient, and for a 
moment Edward is taken aback. 

' I will not keep you a moment,' he says 
in half - apology ; ' I only want to ask a 
favour of you.' 

' A favour ?' 

' Yes, a favour. I saw you just now in 
conversation with Miss Delafield.' 

* Why should not I be in conversation 
with her ?' 

He is silent. 

' It was she who addressed me, not I 
her.' 

' I am not finding fault with you. You 
have, of course, a perfect right to talk to 
whom you choose. What I was going to 
ask you was, as I told you, a favour.' 

' What favour ?' 

Her smile has died away, and her voice is 
dry and hard. 



136 DEAR FAUSTINA 

' It Is only that in any future conversation 
you may have with her ' 

* I have not the slightest desire to have 
any future conversations with her.' 

He reddens. 

' I dare say not. I do not think that you 
would have much in common.' 

' She asked me whether I remembered the 
electric light going out at their ball last year, 
and I said ''Yes, I did." ' 

' All I wished to ask you was that, in case 
you did talk to her, you would refrain from 
airing your peculiar views to her.' 

Althea turns pale and bites her lip, but 
the action does not succeed in keeping in the 
gibing answer : 

' You are behind the times. Do not you 
know that philanthropy is \\\^ fashion ?' 

His retort is not less gibing : 

' Philanthropy ! Yes ; I was not alluding 
to philanthropy.' 



[ ^37 ] 



CHAPTER VII. 

The rest of the party have dispersed, and 
Althea sits on a sofa beside Clare, her eyes 
brimming with angry tears. Miss Delafield, 
their innocent occasion, has, in going away, 
under Edward's very nose, asked for her 
address, and for leave to call upon her, and 
she has bungled and stammered in her efforts 
to evade the little civility. Her wounded 
spirit would have carried her out of the 
house at once had not Clare, by an imploring 
sign, urged her to stay. Mrs. Boteler had 
seen the expression of the two faces on their 
return from their trip to the back drawing- 
room, and is now engaged in pouring balm 



138 DEAR FAUSTINA 

into the hurts of the worst mauled of the two 
combatants. 

' He Is in love ; people in love are always 
unjust.' 

' He spoke to me in a way that was 
perfectly unjustifiable.' 

' Did he ? He always was rather peppery; 
but I think he wanted to make you an ainende. 
He would have liked to shake hands with 
you, only that you turned so resolutely 
away.' 

' And now, perhaps, he will be killed in a 
railway accident going back to Oxford,' says 
Althea lugubriously, one large tear bursting 
from its dyke and running down her nose. 

Clare laughs. 

' That is piling on the agony !' 

' What harm did he suppose I should do 
the girl ?' — with a fresh burst of indignation. 

' Perhaps ' — hesitatingly — ' he was a little 
afraid that you might inoculate her with your 
views of marriage.' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 139 

'What does he know about my views of 
marriage ? He has never had the fairness to 
let me state them.' 

' Do not you think that, if two people know 
that they differ fundamentally upon a subject, 
silence is the wisest course ?' 

* No, I do not ; I like fresh air. I think 
that there is no subject that is not the better 
for ventilation.' 

Mrs. Boteler gives a slight inward shudder. 
There is such a whiff of Faustina about this 
last sentence. It takes a minute to conquer 
her repulsion. Before she can ask, ' You go 
on liking your life ?' Althea has captured her 
errant teardrop, and her eyes sparkle bright 
and dry. 

' It is hardly a question of liking. If 
you mean, do I still think I have chosen 
wisely, I answer emphatically, in spite of 
you all, in spite of Ned ' — faltering — ' '* Yes, 
I do." ' 

Clare looks at her wistfully. She would 



I40 DEAR FAUSTINA 

like to put a great many questions as to the 
details of that life which has thinned her 
sister's face, and yet lit it with such a fire of 
enthusiasm ; but the intense distaste which 
she shares with the rest of her family for 
alluding, even obliquely, to Miss Bateson 
keeps her silent. 

' You have grown thin !' 

' Have I ? That only proves that I added 
superfluous flesh to all my other super- 
fluities.' 

Altogether it is not a great success, though 
Clare at parting gives her a close, sisterly 
hug, and says ruefully : . 

* I do not like to let you go. I want to 
keep you and fatten you up. I do not believe 
that that wo — I mean, I am sure you have 
not enough to eat.' 

It is with a lump in her throat that Althea, 
from the summit of her return bus — she has 
grown in the last five weeks a past-mistress 
in the colours of those puzzling vehicles — 



DEAR FAUSTINA 141 

reflects upon her family. How nice they all 
looked — how much handsomer than she had 
remembered them ! and how well they do 
without her ! 

They did not ask her one question as to 
the great and heart-rending subjects which 
have burnt all other and lesser interests out 
of her own life. They did not show, because 
they did not feel, the least concern for the 
tens of thousands of stunted, starved, and 
poisoned lives running parallel to their own 
wadded satin ones. 

What tales she could have told them of 
the hopeless women, and dwindled little 
children, and famine-goaded men, to whom 
Faustina and Drake have dedicated their 
lives ! But they would not have listened to 
her if she had. Edward would have — nay, 
but what could Edward say or do more 
wounding than what, without any provoca- 
tion on her part, he had already done ? And 
Clare would have looked alarmed, and given 



142 DEAR FAUSTINA 

the conversation a swift, if gentle, ply in 
some happier direction. 

Her bus does not take her quite to her 
own Mansions ; she has to walk a few 
hundred yards along that mean and noisy 
street whose proximity helps to bring the 
rents of More Mansions within indigent 
means. She has got half-way through it, 
when she sees one of the two persons whom 
she has been so favourably comparing with 
her own kinsfolk coming to meet her. 

Drake and she have been several times 
in each other's company since their first 
informal introduction over the drunken cook's 
body, though not often tete-a-tete. When- 
ever this has happened, there has always 
been on Althea's mind, and perhaps also 
a little in her manner, the print of that im- 
pression which the knowledge of his great 
renunciation had graved there on her first 
hearing it. 

He is frowning over some disagreeable 



DEAR FAUSTINA 143 

thought when she first catches sight of him, 
but they meet with two smiles. 

' Have you been to see Miss Bateson ?' 

'Yes; 

' Did you find her ? Oh, but of course 
you did. She had to stay at home to see 
a person on business.' 

' I was that person.' 

' Were you ?' 

There is a slight inflexion of surprise in 
her voice at Faustina's not having mentioned 
this fact ; but she does not dwell upon it. 

'You look tired.' 

' I have been to see my family.' 

'Is that an epigram ?' 

She laughs a little dismally. 

' No ; but they live a long way off, and 
my bus was a very jolting one. I felt as if 
I were out hunting.' 

' May I walk with you to your door ?' 

It is so deeply unlikely that Edward will 
return to Oxford via Flood Street, Chelsea, 



144 DEAR FAUSTINA 

that she answers, without any perceptible 
delay : ' Yes, do.' 

He walks along beside her quite silently 
— so silently that she wonders why he had 
volunteered his company. At last, when the 
great pile of red brick that is to part them 
looms near, he speaks. 

' Do you care to hear what my business 
with Miss Bateson was ?' 

* If you care to tell it me !' — surprised. 
He still hesitates. 

' I hope, at all events, that it was satis- 
factory.' 

* It would be impossible to imagine any- 
thing less so.' 

He pauses before adding to this vague 
yet emphatic statement of failure, an appa- 
rently irrelevant question. 

' Are you fond of asking favours ? I am 
not. Well, I have just asked one, and been 
refused.' 

'A favour.-*' It is the word that has been 



DEAR FAUSTINA 145 

ringing in Althea's head since her brother's 
insulting employment of it, and her forehead 
involuntarily contracts. * Was it Faustina 
whom you asked ?' 

' Yes.' 

' I am sure that if it had been anything 
possible she would have granted it.' 

* Are you ? Why ?' 

' Because she never spares herself, and 
because I know what a — what a high value 
she has for you.' 

* Has she ? Oh, we puff each other off 
when it suits us.' 

She looks indignantly at him, but appa- 
rently he is too much absorbed to notice it. 

' You know her extraordinary faculty for 
getting up enough of a subject that she 
knows nothing of to write a rousing article 
upon it ?' 

* I know the clearness and strength of her 
mind, and her power of picking out essentials 
from accessories.' 

10 



146 DEAR FAUSTINA 



' Well ' — a little Impatiently — ' let us call 
it that ; then, a fortiori you would think that 
it would be easy to her to knock off a few 
pages upon a subject that she really does 
know something about ?' 

' Yes ?' 

' I have had it very much at heart that she 
should write me an article upon " Dangerous 
Trades," and get it into the Universal' 

' And she refused ?' 

' Point-blank.' 

' She knew^ that the editor would not 
take it.' 

'On the contrary, I happen to know that 
his sympathies are warmly with us.' 

A wave of colour rolls over Althea's face. 

' There must be some mistake. You know 
yourself that there is no subject that she feels 
so strongly about, nothing that she works so 
hard at, as factory legislation/ 

' There is no mistake.' They have reached 
the separating-point. ' I have lately learned 



DEAR FAUSTINA J47 

some peculiarly grisly facts about an In- 
dustry In which chromate of potash is 
employed, and which I am very anxious to 
bring before the public/ 

' Yes ?' 

' The other day a friend who saw the 
workmen engaged in this trade told me that 
the dust eats through the gristle of the 
nostrils, and destroys the palate or roof of 
the mouth.' 

She gives a little ejaculation of horror. 

' He said he had seen a pencil passed 
through the nostril of a man who had been 
employed in the trade for some years, and 
that it was a certain result of a given period 
of work.' 

He cannot complain that his tale is not 
interesting her. She has come quite close 
to him ; her cheeks are blanched, and her 
eyes are plunged into his. Deep and genuine 
as his own concern In the topic is, he cannot 
help the passing thought of how easily their 



148 DEAR FAUSTINA 

attitude might be misread by a passer- 
by. 

' You did not tell Faustina ^Aa^ 7 

' Yes, I did; 

* And she still refused ?' 

* As I tell you, point-blank.' 

' There must be some mistake. You could 
not have made her understand.' 

' She understood perfectly.' 

For a moment there is silence ; then : 
' You must be doing her an injustice,' the 
girl says in a voice unsteady with emotion ; 
' such a refusal would run counter to the 
whole tenor of her life. Will you — will you 
wait down here for a few moments while I 
go to her and have it cleared up ?' 

He shakes his head. ' It would be useless.' 

But she has turned from him, and is speed- 
ing up the narrow stone stairs. 

' How out of breath you are, my own !' 
says Miss Bateson, slewing herself round 
from her writing-table, and dropping her pen 



DEAR FAUSTINA 149 

to extend her arms. But Althea neglects 
their invitation. 

' Faustina, I have just met Mr. Drake.' 

The ecstatic smile upon Miss Bateson's 
lips dies away. 

' That fact was scarcely enough to put 
anyone out of breath.' 

' He has been telling me what his business 
with you was.' 

' Has he r 

' Of the request he made you.' 

' Indeed !' 

' And which you refused ?' 

' I did.' 

The calmness of this assent to what she 
had so passionately disbelieved knocks Althea 
on her beam-ends ; and this, combined with 
her as yet not recovered breath, silences her, 
though not for long. 

* But did he tell you — did you take in the 
facts, the monstrous facts, that he has learnt 
about ' 



ISO DEAR FAUSTINA 

' Chromate of potash ?' Interrupts Faustina, 
with a rather bored air. ' Oh yes. After 
all, what is it but one more pebble upon the 
gigantic cairn that Is being built up against 
the day of retribution ?' 

' But why did you refuse ? — you, who are 
always foremost in the fight ?' 

Miss Bateson's temper Is good, and well In 
hand, but she Is not very fond of being cross- 
questioned. 

' I did It for what I considered sufficient 
reasons.' 

' And which you have not confidence 
enough in me to tell me !' cries the other In 
a deeply wounded voice. But here Faustina 
is equal to the occasion. 

' If there Is any question of want of con- 
fidence between us, it is hardly on my 
side.' 

She turns back to her writing-table, as if 
to close the subject ; but Althea Is not so to 
be put off. 



DEAR FAUSTINA 151 

' I Aad confidence in you ; I told him I 
knew it was not true — that there was some 
mistake — that it was so unlike you. I asked 
him to wait until I ran up to you to have it 
cleared up.' 

Faustina lifts an eye, in which gratification 
is not the leading expression, to the acolyte 
thus turned judge, and surveys her standing- 
quivering in red-hot excitement over her. 

' It is inexpressibly painful to me to find 
that you have been discussing me with one 
who is, or ought to be, an almost entire 
stranger to you.' 

* Ought to be ! What do you mean, Faus- 
tina ?' 

The tone, no less than the crimsoned face, 
of her metamorphosed disciple tell Miss 
Bateson that she has gfone too far. 

' I had thought,' she says, with a hint ot 
apology, and also of a break in her voice, 
* that there was such perfect union of heart 
and mind between us, that we did not need 



152 DEAR FAUSTINA 

an intruding third to explain us to one 
another.' 

Althea's answer is given in company with 
a move towards the door. 

* There can be no union of heart and mind 
where one is shut out from the other's con- 
fidence.' 

But Faustina is at the door before her. 

' My darling, if you leave me in this 
spirit I shall go wild with grief. What do 
you ask of me ? I am most willing to lay 
bare my heart to you, as I have so often done 
before — to tell you the reasons why I refused 
John Drake's request, or, rather, command 
— for he was unpleasantly peremptory — to 
do an article for him on ''Dangerous Trades " 
for the Universal' 

' The editor would not take it ?' puts in 
Althea eagerly. 

' Oh yes, he would ; but — but there are 
other papers beside the Universal — other 
editors to be considered beside Macbride.' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 153 

' I do not understand.' 

Miss Bateson does not seem in any par- 
ticular hurry to explain. She clears her 
throat and makes one or two false starts. 
She gets under way at last. 

'It is only now and then that I get an 
article to do for the Universal, whereas I am 
on the staff of the Cheapside ; in fact, I 
draw a considerable part of my tiny income 
from it.' 

Althea looks mystified. 

' But there is no question in this case of 
the Cheapside.'' 

Faustina sighs heavily. 

' Life is so complicated, and it is so difficult 
to explain its entanglements, even to one's 
nearest and dearest. You know that I 
depend entirely — almost entirely — on my own 
exertions for support ; that I neither ask nor 
receive any help from my family.' 

' I know ' — with an access of warmth — 
' it is exceedingly noble of you.' 



154 DEAR FAUSTINA 

Even with the prop of this plaudit Miss 
Bateson again hesitates. 

' Such being the case, to quarrel with the 
editor is to quarrel with my bread-and-butter 
— in plain words, to give up my chief means 
of subsistence.' 

' But why should you quarrel with him ?' 

Faustina's eye wanders distressedly towards 
the window, whence a squeezy pinch of the 
Thames is to be caught sight of, then back 
again, and she takes the plunge. 

' Because — because — nobody can deplore it 
more deeply than I — he holds shares in a 
company concerned in that particular trade ; 
and if I expose its Iniquities, it will naturally 
be prejudicial to his interests, and he will 
be certain to turn me adrift.' 

There is a dead silence. Althea's face has 
paled and stiffened, and it is apparently with 
great difficulty that she gets out the words : 

' Thank you for your explanation.' 

' You think it a satisfactory one ?' cries 



DEAR FAUSTINA 155 

Miss Bateson, seizing the other's perfectly 
irresponsive hand. * You see that my reason 
for refusing was sound and valid ?' 

' I see,' replies the other dryly, ' that there 
is a wide ditch between admiring a great 
sacrifice such as Mr. Drake's and emulat- 
ing it.' 

Faustina's cheek puts on a dull flush, which 
shows even through her habitual high colour, 
and she bites her lip ; but she is still able to 
keep herself in hand. 

' It is a little hard to have John Drake set 
up as a model before me — me, who first set 
him on the path of renunciation.' 

' It was you yourself who supplied me with 
material for the comparison.' 

' There is no real comparison between us,' 
returns Faustina, drawing herself up. ' He 
is a blundering amateur, with no comprehen- 
sive grasp of the subject, only a hot-headed 
zeal for one or two details of it, while I — oh! 
is it possible that you, of all people, should 



156 DEAR FAUSTINA 

need to be told that I have devoted all my 
womanhood, every heart-beat, every pulse- 
throb, to fighting the Hydra?' 

Her tone Is so lofty, and Althea feels 
herself being put so completely in the wrong, 
that she has to use a strong effort in order to 
recall the original facts of the case before she 
can say in a steady, low voice : 

' That was why it seemed to me so in- 
credible.' 

' One must live,' cries the other, bringing 
her hands together with a melodramatic 
gesture. ' Cotton-wool people like you and 
Drake are incapable of putting yourselves in 
the position of us toilers and moilers for 
our daily bread. If I take pay from a 
man engaged in the iniquitous traffic that 
my whole life is spent in making war upon, 
I use it as a lever against him ; do not 
you see that I hoist him with his own 
petard ?' 

Althea shakes her head. 



DEAR FAUSTINA 157 

' No ; I do not.' 

' Do not you see that I mus^ keep body 
and soul together? Oh!' — with an abrupt 
ascent or descent from her self-justifying tone 
to one of lovelorn upbraiding — ' has it come 
to this ? After all these happy heart-to-heart 
weeks, am I to stand arraigned like a criminal 
at the bar before you ?' 

Althea's mouth is all one painful quiver, a 
wave of horrid disillusionment pouring over 
her. 

' You cannot think it more dreadful than I 
do, a more shocking reversal of the right 
order of things ! Of course you must live, 
and no one can admire and reverence your 
honourable poverty more than I do ; but — 
but would not it be possible for you — I dare 
say I speak like an ignoramus — to get on the 
staff of some other paper with less — less 
objectionable principles ? You must be in 
great request. Only to-day Mr. Drake was 
saying what a wonderful faculty you had for 



158 DEAR FAUSTINA 

getting up subjects at short notice, and writing 
brilliantly upon them.' 

Faustina's lip assumes that ferocious curl 
so frequent in the pages of novels, so rare in 
real life, but on this occasion really on view. 

' It is very good of him to allow me even 
that trifling merit !' 



[ 159] 



CHAPTER VIII. 

The hatchet is buried, though to a very nice 
observer a bit of its handle may still be seen 
protruding from the ground. But to the 
ordinary eye there would seem to be no 
alteration in the relation of the friends as 
they go together, on the following day, to 
an ' advanced ' tea-party. 

They have been wise enough to avoid a 
reconciliation — a thing which always leaves 
so much larger a cicatrice than the smartest 
quarrel. 

Althea has had a sleepless night ; but by 
morning the deity which had seemed to be 
sprawling as hopelessly as Dagon has been 



i6o DEAR FAUSTINA 

respectfully lifted to its pedestal again. That 
pedestal is not quite so high a one as before ; 
but if the idol's feet have been shown to be 
clay, its head is not less undoubtedly pure 
gold. 

If there have been stains revealed upon 
Faustina's falchion, she is none the less a 
valiant fighter in the host of righteousness 
and pity. Such stout combatants have in all 
ages of the world not been over-nice as to 
the quality of the weapons that came to their 
hands. If these ingenious reasonings have 
not quite cured the gashed wound of over- 
night, they have at least changed its pain 
from an intolerably sharp to a quite sup- 
portably dull one. 

The tea-party — a weekly one — is held at a 
club lately started with the object of aiding 
needy young women writers of reforming 
views ; and if to this latter class have been 
added as members a few fine ladles, who find 
Its Incendiary principles and risky discussions 



DEAR FAUSTINA i6i 



titillating, the original element still pre- 
dominates. 

It Is Miss Vane's first visit, and, as they 
have arrived rather late, the room is crowded, 
and the din of ' advanced ' tongues stunning. 
Faustina is at once absorbed into a vortex of 
female intimates, after presenting her friend 
to the president and secretary of the institu- 
tion, who in turn introduce her with bated 
breath to various celebrities of whom she has 
never heard — gods of a little esoteric, clique, 
whose godhood seldom reaches the large 
inferior outer world. 

She is ushered with peculiar pomp into 
the acquaintance of one whose name she is 
vaguely conscious of having seen in pub- 
lishers' advertising columns. In a happy 
flash it dawns upon her that it was in con- 
nection with a volume of one of the now 
frequent ' Series.' 

They talk happily for a few moments, 
when an allusion to her ' work ' on the part 

II 



i62 DEAR FAUSTINA 

of the lioness emboldens Althea to hazard the 
remark that she believes the lady has not 
essayed fiction. 

' I have written one novel.' 

' Oh, indeed ! I — I did not know. I have 
not been fortunate enough to meet with it.' 

' And yet it went through three editions !' 
— not quite suavely. 

' I — I have not time to read many novels ; 
and ' — determined to keep to sure ground — 
* I always think of you as a biographer.' 

* A biographer?' — with raised eyebrows. 

' Yes ' — with rising misgivings, and a sin- 
cere desire to be ' over the border and awa'.' 
' Did not you write the " Life of Anna 
Maria Schumann " in the " Gifted Women's 
Series ".?' 

' Yes, I wrote that.' 

' And ' — encouraged by this ray of success 
— ' and the '' Sappho ".^' 

' No, certainly not !' — rather shortly. 
' Mme. wrote that.' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 163 

A baffled pause. 

' How nice-looking that tall young lady is !' 
— indicating one in the near distance, and 
with a sudden plunge into what seems a safe 
subject. But it, too, has its pitfalls. 

' Yes ; you know, of course, who she is T 

' I am sorry to say that I do not.' 

'She is Mrs. Algernon Smithers.' 

' Oh !'— rather blankly. 

' You probably only know her by her 
pseudonym "Hellas".^' As the listener's 
face remains distressfully unenlightened : 
' You have, of course, in common with the 
whole of the cultured world, enjoyed her 
''Ode to Priapus".^ It is more Greek than 
anything since Theocritus.' 

'I am afraid' — now sore ashamed — 'that 
I am very ignorant of the new poets.' 

'New! "Hellas" has been writing for 

ten years. She and I began simultaneously.' 

The mischief is out ! The lady is a poet. 

This is only one of many blunders and 



1 64 DEAR FAUSTINA 

disasters. They multiply so much upon 
Miss Vane's head that she looks round at 
last with a despairing impulse of flight. But 
the wedging is too close for anything but a 
very slow progress towards the door, and 
Faustina too unattainably distant and sur- 
rounded for any looks of distress to reach 
her. 

Althea's eyes rove helplessly over the un- 
known crowd — both over those ladies whose 
gallant feathers and careful red heads show 
them to be mere butterfly spectators of the 
fray, and those others whose wildly cropped 
grizzled hair and super-manly coats and 
waistcoats point them out as the nucleus and 
core — the female ' Old Guard,' as it were — of 
the army of advance. 

It is with a feeling of strong surprise that 
she presently recognizes among — or, rather, 
soaring above — the surge of heads the face 
of the girl whom she had yesterday met at 
luncheon at Clare's, and against poisoning 



DEAR FAUSTINA 165 



whose mind with her own megrims Edward 
had so cruelly warned her. 

What on earth can she be doing in this 
galley? And what would Edward's feelings 
be if he could see her here ? 

She has scarcely time for the thought, be- 
fore Miss Delafield, having worked her way 
to her with that ease which having your head 
and shoulders above the human mass which 
is impeding your lower half gives, stands 
beside her, holding out an obviously delighted 
hand. 

' Oh, M iss Vane, I am so glad to meet you 
here ! I hoped that I perhaps might. I 
forgot to ask you for your address yesterday, 
and I could not persuade Mr. Vane to give 
it me ; he turned the subject off every time I 
mentioned it.' 

' Did he ?' 

'But I felt I must see you again, to tell 
you — please do not think me impertinent — 
how ardently I admire — and envy you.' 



1 66 DEAR FAUSTINA 

* It is very good of you to say so ; but 
for what ?' 

' Oh, surely you must know for what ! For 
doing such a grand thing. Throwing over 
everything — running against everybody to — 
to ' 

The action described sounds so very much 
more like that of an animal not generally 
admired — a bull in a china-shop — than any- 
thing else, that Althea cannot forbear a 
vexed smile. 

' I hope I have not quite done that' 

' Oh, but I admire you so much for it ! I 
know that I express myself badly ; but I 
think it such a splendid thing to let no 
obstacle stop you in your path to what you 
think right. The moment that one begins 
to try to do right — the highest right, I mean 
— how many, many obstacles one finds !' 

She says it with a pensive note as of 
personal experience, and Althea knows that 
she is alluding to the good-natured nobleman 



DEAR FAUSTINA 167 

and noblewoman who have had the honour 
of endowing the world with so many feet of 
beauty and aspiration. She looks up with 
silent misgiving at the pretty face in the 
seven-guinea hat above her — so pretty, so 
much in earnest, and so far from wise. 

' My mother does not know that I am here 
to-day. I persuaded Lady Treadwin to bring 
me ; she has just become a member. But do 
not let us waste time talking of me ; I want 
you to tell me about yourself. You live, do 
not you, with a friend, a high-minded friend, 
who has thrown over everything, too ? Is 
she here ? Would you mind presenting me 
to her ?' 

Again a thought of Edward, a thought 
even more rueful than amused, darts across 
his sister's mind. Is this the young lady of 
whom he confidently predicated that she 
would not be likely to have much in common 
with /ie7^, Althea ? But blood is thicker than 
water — possibly at this time yesterday it 



i68 DEAR FAUSTINA 

would not have been ; she will not be the 
channel of introduction. 

' I am afraid it would not be possible to 
get hold of her just now.' 

' No, oh no ! I see that it would not ; and 
I hope I shall have many other opportunities ; 
and, after all, it is you who are — whom I — 
I thought that perhaps you would allow me 
to call upon you. One ought not to be 
content with admiring people like you ; one 
ought to try to imitate them. But it is 
difficult — so difficult to break away ! I 
thought you would perhaps tell me how you 
did it — how you began ?' 

Instead of complying. Miss Vane looks 
back and up at her interlocutor with an ex- 
pression that might be described without 
much exaggeration as aghast. 

' I do not think that our cases are alike 
enough to make it of much use for me to do 
that. My father's death — the breaking up of 
my home ' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 169 

* Ah yes ; that, of course, simplified matters 
for you.' 

She says it in a tone of pensive envy, 
and once again that sense of aghastness rolls 
over the elder girl. The devotion of Lord 
and Lady Lanington to their beautiful ewe 
lamb is proverbial ; and that she should be 
now calmly alluding to them merely as dis- 
agreeable obstacles in her path to truth and 
glory makes Althea feel as if she herself had 
set rolling a boulder down a precipice on 
their innocent heads, as they sit hand in 
hand — they have always been a model pair 
— at the hill-foot. 

It is possible that her features express 
something of her consternation, for the voice 
of her votary sounds less assui'ed in her next 
speech. 

' But you had difficulties to contend with ? 
Please do not think me impertinent, but I 
was told that you had had a great deal to go 
through.' 



I70 DEAR FAUSTINA 



Miss Vane is spared the embarrassment of 
having to answer this question by the fact 
that at this point the secretary of the ckib 
brings up another lady to present to her, 
a lady too young, as she with a relieved 
feeling sees, to have as yet achieved any 
great renown, and about whom, therefore, 
she need not fear to repeat her distressing 
blunder of half an hour ago. She does not 
catch this new acquaintance's name, and 
thinks it safest to tell her so. 

' Oh, my name would not convey anything 
to you. I do a great deal of anonymous 
work journalizing. There is a great field 
for women in journalism ; it is where general 
information tells.' 

Althea is turning over in her mind whether 
this statement does not contain an unintended 
implication that accuracy is not the forte of 
the now confessedly superior sex, when the 
young lady adds : 

* My mother's name will be no doubt 



DEAR FAUSTINA 171 



familiar to you, though mine is not — Beachy 
Head.' 

An overpowering sense of crass Ignorance 
whelms Althea, and must be conveyed by 
her face, for, as in the case of the poetess, 
the other's look of confident expectation 
pales. 

' She writes under that sobriquet. She 
thought that it conveyed her position in the 
world of speculative thought.' 

Althea looks wildly round, and her eye 
alights on Miss Delafield, still hovering 
anxiously near. But to take refuge with 
her would be to fall out of the frying-pan 
into the fire. It is with genuine relief that 
she sees Faustina masterfully ploughing a 
path towards her through the female sea. 
She nods familiarly to the young journalist, 
but her words are for Althea. 

' I am afraid I must take you away ; it Is 
later than I thought.' In a lower tone : 
' You look fagged, darling. Is it so ?' 



T72 DEAR FAUSTINA 

Though the tone is low, the speech is 
overheard by Miss Delafield, and its tender- 
ness reveals the speaker. A glance of 
quickened excitement passes over her face, 
and she draws a step nearer. Faustina looks 
back at her, and then both half turn towards 
Althea, plainly asking an introduction. But 
the thought of Ned is strong in his sister's 
mind, and she makes as though she sees 
not. 

' Let us come. I am quite, quite ready.' 

Her disappointed votary does not get even 
a parting hand-shake from her. As they 
stand at the street-corner, waiting to pick 
out their red Hammersmith bus from the 
endless multicoloured file, Faustina asks : 

' Who was your pretty May-pole ?' 

* Miss Delafield.' 

* A bit of the old life, I suppose ?' 
'Yes.' 

' But perhaps with aspirations after some- 
thing better ?' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 173 



* If she has, they are not of a kind that 
can ever be of the smallest use.' 

'H'm!' 

' She Is not In the least of our sort.' 

' Our ! How sweet of you, love, to 
bracket us together! But, as I have often 
told you, it is all grist that comes to my mill. 
And she looks to belong to the very class — 
the aristocratic '' iced slugs " — that I want to 
get hold of. I wish I had asked you to 
introduce me to her.' 

' Do you ?' 

' But I dare say I shall have other oppor- 
tunities.' 

' I dare say.' 

They reach home In silence, and Althea 
turns into her meagre bedroom. There is a 
sense of fatigue, of arrested enthusiasm, upon 
her, and it is in a not very brisk voice that 
she answers Faustina's knock and request to 
enter, made not five minutes after they have 
parted. She comes in with sparkling eyes 



174 DEAR FAUSTINA 



and a paper in her hand. Althea's eyes fall 
on the name of the journal. 

' Since when have you became a reader of 
the Morning Post ?' 

* Since when indeed ? But I had a special 
reason for buying it. Your aunt Lavinia 
gives one of her big political parties on 
Wednesday. ' 

'Yes.^' 

The word sounds indifferent, but Miss 
Vane's heart in uttering it seems to have 
slipped under the soles of her feet. Faustina 
has sat down on the bed beside her friend— ^ 
in the flat there is no vulgar superfluity of 
chairs — and taken hei; hand with an air of 
almost solemnity. 

' My heart's dear one, you wounded me 
last night by an implication — perhaps a just 
one — that I am not single-minded in my 
devotion to the cause of suffering humanity ; 
that I allow motives of personal interest to 
sway my conduct. Nay, do not be afraid ' — 



DEAR FAUSTINA 175 

as Althea makes a deprecating gesture ; ' I 
have no wish to reopen the subject, except 
to tell you that you have now an opportunity 
of proving — what I never doubted — of how- 
much purer mGial you are made.' 

' //ow P' — very faintly. 

' If you remember, on the first night of 
your being here, you asked me how you 
could make yourself of most use, and I told 
you socially. Do you recollect ?' 

' I recollect your saying so.' 

' I said it because it was, and is, my firm 
conviction. That, then, is where you could 
really help.' 

Althea moves restlessly. 

* Have I been of no help, then, all these 
weeks T 

' Of course you have. Your sweet presence 
has been an untold support ; but as to the 
actual work you have done, hundreds of 
women with not a tithe of your gifts, but 
with the wholesome habit of labour, could 



176 DEAR FAUSTINA 

have done it better ; whereas in the direction 
and for the end I point out to you, you would 
be unique.' 

There is a most uncomfortable silence, 
and when at length it is broken, it is not by 
Althea. 

' If you feel that the test is a severer one 
than you can bear, I will, of course,-> not urge 
you ; only, dearest, if it is so, I would ask you 
in future to be a little more lenient to other 
fallible mortals.' 

Neither the perfectly good-humoured tone 
in which this last clause is spoken, nor the 
caress by which it is accompanied, takes, nor 
is, perhaps, intended to take, the sting out 
of it, and Miss Vane writhes. 

' You are right ; I have no business to 
preach to others, and yet flinch when my 
own turn comes. No doubt it is not because 
there seems to me something as unworthy 
and underhand in picking people's confidence 
as their purse, but because it would be so 



DEAR FAUSTINA 177 



intensely disagreeable to myself, that I shrink. 
What is it you want me to do ?' 

' My noble darling, I knew that you only 
needed to have it brought home to you.' 

' What do you want me to do ?' 

Faustina has the sense to see that her 
friend would rather that she dropped her 
hand, and she does so, while the business- 
like glitter comes into her black eyes. 

' You have heard me speak of the Child 
Insurance Bill ?' 

'Yes.' 

' You know how keen I am to get up the 
facts about it ?' 

'Yes.' 

' And how hard I have found it to do so ?' 

'Yes.' 

' How impossible to approach the Home 
Secretary ?' 

'Yes.' 

'Well, through you, I have now an oppor- 
tunity of getting at him. The Ministers are 

12 



1 78 DEAR FAUSTINA 



sure to be at your aunt s party, and he among 
them.' 

' So will two hundred other people be.' 

' I think you once told me that he was an 
old friend of yours ?' 

' Of my father's. My acquaintance with 
him is very slight.' 

' But enough to justify your addressing 
him, I suppose ?' 

' I suppose so.' 

A pause. Althea feels the net closing 
round her, but she makes one more despair- 
ing effort to break through its meshes. 

' My aunt is not in the least likely to send 
me a card.' 

' And you could not get one through Clare 
— Mrs. Boteler, as I suppose I ought to call 
her?' 

' If she suspected my motive for asking it, 
certainly not.' 

' Why need she suspect it } Why need 
anyone suspect it ?' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 179 

Althea starts up and goes to the window, 
inhaling as much air as the blank wall, three 
feet off, opposite, and the projection of their 
own kitchen, thrusting itself forward at right 
angles, to still further cut off any troublesome 
zephyrs, allow her to do. It is this very 
underhandedness, what seems to her the 
social treachery of her intended ro/e, which 
makes it so hard a mouthful to swallow. 

Faustina wisely leaves her for a few 
moments to battle alone with herself, and 
when she speaks there is neither reproach 
nor further urgency in tone or words, only 
affection, touched with pity. 

' If the sacrifice is a greater one than you 
can manage, let us say no more about it. I 
dare say I had no right to ask it, and perhaps 
in time I may gain my object by some other 
road. It is on these sort of occasions that I 
feel the hardness of the doors that are shut in 
my face. That must be my excuse for teasing 
you ; and also that my love and admiration 



i8o DEAR FAUSTINA 

throned you so high that I thought no test 
— not even ' — with an indulgent smile — ' the 
fiery trial of asking a few innocent questions 
of an old acquaintance — could be too strong 
for you.' 

Althea's head is still out of the window, 
and for a few minutes it seems doubtful to 
her companion whether she has heard. But 
that doubt is removed by the girl's next 
movement, which is to leave her post and 
put a hand on each shoulder of Miss Bateson, 
as she still sits in patient, cool expectation on 
the bed. Althea's eyes are shining, though 
her cheeks are pale. 

' You are right. I talk tall, and think 
myself entitled to reproach you, who are so 
far, far ahead of me in every respect ; but 
when anything painful to myself is required 
of me, I cry off. Thank you for showing me 
what I really am. I will go.' 



[ -S' ] 



I 



CHAPTER IX. 

There is not the least difficulty as to the 
card for Aunt Lavinia's party ; and the 
delight with which Clare writes to propose 
Althea's dining with the Boteler mdnage, and 
going with them to it, shows the latter in how 
false a position Miss Bateson has placed her. 
Her family clearly believe, and joy in the 
belief, that she is beginning to look back 
from her plough, when, in point of fact, her 
one object in this sudden return to the world 
is to drive her share still deeper through the 
furrow. 

It is impossible for her to explain this to 
them, and she feels a sense of sailing under 



I82 



DEAR FAUSTINA 



false colours when they all softly make much 
of her. They do it very delicately ; and there 
is no allusion to the past or to former dis- 
crepancies, except one abortive jocosity 
strangled by his wife in its cradle on the 
part of the host, whose strong point is not 
his tact. But the air seems to have been 
warmed to receive her. Edward, who is, 
somehow, up again from Oxford, looks a little 
confused on first meeting, and she had meant 
to be very stiff with him ; but his intention is 
so evidently conciliatory that she finds after 
the first minute or two confusion and stiffness 
both merging in the general pleasantness. 
The dinner is very merry, and Althea 
would have enjoyed it thoroughly but for 
the weight of her own duplicity and the 
incubus of the coming task imposed upon 
her. 

They have dined very late, and the in- 
tervening space before it is time to set off 
flies but too quickly. The three sisters and 



i 



DEAR FAUSTINA 183 



the brother talk all at once about their child- 
hood, reminding each other of long-forgotten 
jests and catastrophes ; and William Boteler, 
who has naturally no share in the topic, sits 
by listening with a beatified smile, and his 
arm — an attitude which seems chronic — round 
Fanny's waist. Althea wonders how he 
would have disposed of that twining limb 
had she been the resident sister-in-law. 

But now enjoyment is over, and labour 
and sorrow begun. There is plenty of time 
for disagreeable anticipation, as it is long 
before i\unt Lavinia's door is reached, so 
interminable is the string —early as it is in 
the season, there is evidently going to be a 
real crush ; it is longer still before all the 
steps of her wide stairs are climbed, her 
flower-banked landing attained, and her hand 
briefly shaken. 

Short as the hostess's greeting necessarily 
is, there seems to be in the touch of her fingers 
such an emphasized warmth for Althea that 



i84 DEAR FAUSTINA 

the latter has time for a fresh tweak of that 
odious sense of dishonesty and false pretences 
on her own part. As she follows slowly in 
Clare's wake through the rapidly-filling rooms, 
she is greeted by many old acquaintances. 
All are civil and glad to see her, though most 
of them in the hurry of their own lives have 
never missed her ; and thanks to that, and 
the conditions of throng and haste in which 
they meet, there is no need and no demand 
for explanation. 

So thick does the crowd become, that 
Althea is beginning to give herself the 
cowardly comfort, inwardly blushed for, yet 
none the less felt, that she will be able to tell 
Faustina conscientiously that she has failed 
in her mission through never having even 
caught sight of the object of her quest, when, 
by the action of some wave in the starred 
and jewelled sea, she suddenly finds herself 
shoulder to shoulder with him. His eye falls 
accidentally upon her, but in it there is 



i 



DEAR FAUSTINA 185 

obviously no recognition. Her heart sinks 
even lower than before ; but she knows that 
if she does not take her courage in both hands 
and ' rush ' it, the opportunity will be lost, 
probably not to return. 

' 1 am afraid that you do not recollect me.' 
The great man looks at her once again, 
but, alas ! with no glance of knowledge, 
though he is far too courteous to allow it. 

'Not recollect you! How could that be 
possible } You are ' — it is evident that she 
will not let him off — ' you are ' — then, as he 
still gazes in benevolent concern, not un- 
mixed with admiration, at the very pretty 
and strangely - agitated face lifted towards 
him, the lacking memory, to his intense 
relief, flashes back upon him — ' you are one 
of my dear old friend Vane's girls. I have 
not seen you since — ah, that was a loss ! 
Let us try and find a quiet corner where you 
can tell me all about yourselves.' 



J 86 DEAR FAUSTINA 

Half an hour later a young man, who has 
been working his way through the brilHant 
press, giving and receiving greetings, but 
such occasional ones as show him to be not 
an habitue of the London world, comes upon 
Althea. She is not speaking to anyone 
when he first catches sight of her, and he 
remarks with surprise the extreme discom- 
posure of her countenance. Apparently his 
face expresses some of his astonishment, for 
on recognizing him she evidently makes an 
effort to pull herself together, and says, with 
an air of affected lightness and surprise as 
real as his own : 

' Are the skies going to fall ? You at an 
evening party ?' 

' And you P' 

At once the clouds rush back and darken 
all her features. 

' I had a motive. I came here for a special 
object.' 

' Which I hope you have attained ?' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 187 

' Oh, do not ask me,' she says in a low 
voice of anguish, and with an arrested gesture, 
as of one who would cover her face with her 
hands, and only remembers just in time how 
far too public is the place for such a relief. 
' I — I ' — her voice sinking to a whisper almost 
inaudible in the universal buzz — ' I have ex- 
perienced one of the most bitter mortifica- 
tions of my life. I cannot tell you about it 
here.' 

He has a moment of gratification, whose 
sharpness surprises himself, at the implication 
that under more favourable circumstances she 
would tell him of her disaster, before he says : 

' You look as if you wanted more air and 
space to recover in ; you know the house — 
is there no room where you would be able to 
find them ?' 

' There is Aunt Lavinia's boudoir ; it is not 
generally thrown open.' 

' Let me take you there.' 

She assents in a small and rather guilty 



1 88 DEAR FAUSTINA 

voice. According to the code of manners of 
the world to which she has made this brief 
and disastrous return, she is doing rather an 
odd thing ; but, after all, what are its laws to 
her ? — and, besides, she does feel rather faint. 
The boudoir, though lit and flower-banked 
like the more public rooms, is empty ; and 
after a few moments of silent repose — silent, 
for Drake does not disturb her — Althea 
recovers. 

' I am all right again. I had better go 
back to Clare — to my sister, Mrs. Boteler.' 

' Then, you are not going to tell me ?' 

His tone, though respectfully acquiescent, 
is yet obviously disappointed, and she hesi- 
tates. For some perverse reason he is the 
one person to whom it would be a relief to 
her to reveal her discomfiture. 

' I do not know why I should not,' she 
says doubtfully ; ' perhaps you might hit 
upon something to say that would restore my 
self-respect.' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 189 

' Voii7' self-respect 7 

' Yes ; it lies in the dust.' 

He is standing beside her as she leans 
back in Aunt Lavinia's own special chair. 
The shaded electric light falls on her pretty 
shoulders and on her faintly-indicated collar- 
bones. The thought that they ought not to 
be visible at all passes across Drake's mind, 
harnessed to the rather angry wonder whether 
Faustina gives her enough to eat. 

' Possibly you are exaggerating. I would 
not for worlds urge you, but if I knew what 
had happened, I might perhaps put it, what- 
ever it may be, in a less humiliating light.' 

She shakes her head slowly. 

' There is no other light possible, as you 
will see when I tell you.' 

She draws herself slowly up, and he is 
glad. When she sits up the collar-bones 
disappear, and he feels fonder of Miss Bate- 
son. 

' You know — or do you know i* — how very 



I90 DEAR FAUSTINA 

much interested In the Child Insurance Bill 
Faustina is ?' 

'Yes.' 

' How much she has regretted her inability 
to get at the facts she wanted about it ?' 

' Yes.' 

' Well, to-night she thought she had found 
her opportunity.' 

' Yes ?' 

' She has always had an idea that I could 
help her socially, if I would.' 

' I know she has.' 

' She mentioned it once before, and I com- 
bated it strongly.' 

' Did you ?' 

' But this time she was so urgent — and I 
could not help suspecting that my refusing 
was because it was so personally distasteful 
to me — that I ended by consenting. You 
know what the service she asked of me was ?' 

' I do not know precisely ; of course I can 
guess its general drift.' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 191 

' I had mentioned to her that the present 
Home Secretary was an old friend of my 
father's ; and what she asked of me was that 
I should go to this party, renew acquaintance 
with him, and, without his suspecting It, pick 
his brains !' 

She pronounces this last phrase with an 
accent of almost as much horror as if It had 
been a question of a literal attack with a 
'jemmy' upon the skull of the dignitary In 
question. 

' Well ?' 

She hears — and it gives her a ray of 
comfort — that her listener is drawing his 
breath sympathetically short. 

' I thought at first that I should not have 
the chance of getting near him In the crowd 
— oh, if I had not ! — but by accident I hap- 
pened to find myself close to him. He did 
not know me at first, but when he remem- 
bered me he was so kind, so courteous ! 
took me away Into a recess to ask all sorts 



192 DEAR FAUSTINA 

of interested questions about us — real interest, 
not pretended. He talked with such genuine 
affection and regret of my father ; paid him 
such a noble tribute ' 

Her agitation is gaining on her, and she 
stops ; nor does Drake offer any remark. 
She feels the tact of his silence, and is able 
after a little while to go on. 

* When we had been talking for ten 
minutes, I remembered — I had quite for- 
gotten it — the object with which I had forced 
myself upon him, and tried to turn the con- 
versation from my private affairs to public 
ones. I am sure I did it very clumsily — I 
was so agitated, I scarcely knew what I 
said ' 

Another break. The increased strain of 
suffering effort shows that she is nearing the 
catastrophe. 

' Faustina had coached me as to the way 
I was to approach the subject — the sort of 
indirect inquiries I was to make ; but I 



DEAR FAUSTINA 193 

bungled terribly, and the feeling that I was 
bungling made me bungle more ; and then — 
I saw his face begin to stiffen and harden. 
At first he had only looked puzzled, not 
knowing what I would be at ; but he listened 
politely, and when I stopped — not because 
I had said in the least what I wanted, but 
simply because I cou/d not go on — he took 
my hand — not nearly so kindly as he had done 
before — and said : ''My dear young lady, 
may I tell you a story ?" I was too choked 
to answer ; and he went on : " Some years 
ago, during the Premiership of Lord Beacons- 
field, and during an acute political crisis, a 
certain great lady sat one night at dinner 
beside the Prime Minister. She thought it 
a good opportunity for getting a few State 
secrets out of him, and pumped him, as she 
thought, very artfully for some time. He 
listened attentively and in perfect silence till 
she finished, and then he turned to her and — 
though she was not a very wise woman, she 



194 DEAR FAUSTINA 

was an exceedingly pretty one — said very 
affectionately : ' You darling !' " ' 

At the close of this terrible anecdote 
Althea's fortitude gives way, and she yields 
to the impulse which she had with difficulty 
resisted in the more public rooms, and hides 
her burning face in her gloved hands. As, 
however, it is quite possible that she may 
have a glint of sight left between her fingers, 
Drake controls the smile which is tickling the 
corners of his mouth, and which, if indulged 
in, would certainly do to death a friendship 
so promisingly budding. 

Again his silence seems to soothe hen 
for in a minute or so her distressed face 
re-emerges. 

' I was struck dumb with mortification, and 
he just bowed and left me. Of course, what 
I ought to feel is the having so signally 
failed Faustina, but just at present I can 
think of nothing but the personal humilia- 
tion.' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 195 

' She had no business to put such a task 
upon you — no right to credit you with 
a hide like her own!' he answers indig- 
nantly. 

The phrase horrifies her less than it would 
have done three days ago, but the shocked 
surprise it engenders is still strong enough 
to make her for the moment forget her own 
woes. 

He goes on : 

* If she does not take care she will over- 
reach herself, and make you chuck — give up 
the whole thing — disgust you, I mean, with 
the whole Cause.' 

' No, that she will never do !' 

Her eyes, veiled with a slight mist that 
might distil in tears, clear and sparkle ; and 
he looks at her with an admiration that, 
since it may be construed into a tribute to 
her apostleship, and not her womanhood, he 
does not take much pains to hide. 

' By-the-by,' he adds, changing the subject, 



196 DEAR FAUSTINA 

partly with the good-natured motive of dis- 
tracting her thoughts, ' will you let me ask 
you which of us, you or I, proved to be right 
as to the subject which we discussed when I 
met you in Flood Street ?' 

Again her face falls. 

' The chromate of potash article ?' 

'Yes/ 

' Vou were.' 

She divines a something of triumph in his 
silence, and adds : 

' But she gave me reasons — what seemed 
to her sufficient reasons — for her refusal.' 

' Did they seem to you sufficient ?' 

Her look meets his with a sort of defiance. 
She will not be trapped into a disloyalty to 
her leader. 

' I do not think that a wretched bungling 
amateur has any right to criticize the action 
of an expert.' 

He likes her none the less for her fidelity ; 
but he feels that their acquaintance, much 



DEAR FAUSTINA 197 

as it has stridden forward within the last 
half-hour, is scarcely ripe enough to tell 
her so. 

' Have you found any other writer to do 
for you what she — did not see her way to 
doing ?' 

* Not yet' 

' I wish I could help you, but it seems ' — 
despondently — ' that I am equally futile with 
tongue and pen ; and yet, Heaven knows 
— oh, how those facts you told me the other 
day haunted me ! And I suppose they are 
only a few out of hundreds equally heart- 
rending ?' 

' Only a very few.' 

' Tell me more about the chromate of 
potash. What is it ? What is it used for ?' 

' It scarcely seems congruous talk here and 
to-night.' 

* Bah !' she says, casting an almost revo- 
lutionary eye round upon her aunt's bibelots 
and hangings. 'It is a good thing that 



198 DEAR FAUSTINA 

these walls should hear a few ugly truths for 
once.' 

* It is used for dyeing, and in great calico- 
printing works.' 

^ And why is it so deadly ?' 
' Unfortunately, it has to be made fast with 
sugar of lead.' 

* Sugar of lead ?' 

' Yes ; the disease — but, indeed, I tell you 
under protest ; I think you have had quite 
enough disagreeables for one night.' 

' I may as well fill up my cup while I am 
about it. The disease ?' 

' It comes from the dust entering the men's 
nostrils, and giving them a nipping, tickling 
sensation, which makes them rub their noses 
w4th fingers already covered with the powder. 
You may imagine the result.' 

* And is there no remedy ?' 

Her tone is one of the deepest interest ; 
she has forgotten the insult which Dizzy has 
been made the vehicle of conveying to her ; 



DEAR FAUSTINA 199 

from the tension, and In the excitement of the 
moment, she has stood up, to be more nearly 
on a level with her companion. It Is as 
fellow - champions, brother fighters In the 
battle of mercy, that they Involuntarily draw 
together. But to an onlooker their attitude 
would be misleading. 

Althea's back and Drake's face are turned 
towards the door ; and, since he does not 
answer her eager question, she is about to 
repeat it, when she learns the reason of his 
silence. They are no longer alone. 

' Clare Is looking for you everywhere.' 

' Is she ?' 

' Oh, Miss Vane, how glad I am ! Is Miss 
Bateson here ?' 

' No, she is not.' 

' Mr. Drake !' — turning with scarcely more 
veiled enthusiasm to Althea's companion. 
' I thought you never went to evening parties.' 

' Did you ?' 

' I have not seen you since to thank you 



200 DEAR FAUSTINA 

for your wonderful speech. I cannot tell you 
how some of your phrases literally burnt into 
my brain. And what an audience ! You 
might have heard a pin drop. And, large 
as the room was, your voice carried to the 
very end of it.' 

The brother and sister — for the intruders 
are Ned and Miss Delafield — stand silently 
listening, their rising anger against each 
other — his at her action, hers at his tone — 
sunk in surprise at the apparent intimacy 
revealed as existing between their respective 
friends. 

' I am glad that it interested you.' 

Nothing can be quieter or less fatuous 
than this acceptance of a compliment ; but 
either it, or more probably the effusion that 
made it necessary, are as much as Edward 
can bear. His vexation spurts out in his 
next speech to his sister : 

' Clare has been looking for you every- 
where — everywhere in the least likely! 



DEAR FAUSTINA 201 



' I will go to her at once.' 

They all — since Miss Delafield is clearly 
determined not to be detained there — leave 
the room together, and make their way 
through the now thinning throng, the young 
girl throwing out reminiscences of the meet- 
ing she has alluded to, and overtures, 
rendered a little hesitating by the passive 
nature of Miss Vane's acceptance of them, to 
Althea as they pass along. 



' Oh, what kave you done to Edward ?' 

This cry of the soul escapes from Mrs. 
Boteler's lips almost before the carriage-door 
is shut upon her and Althea. Fanny is on 
the back-seat ; but, then, she never counts. 

*I? Nothing!' 

' He came to me just now^ in sue A a state 
of mind !' 

' Did he ? What about ?' 

* He said he had just come upon you 



202 DEAR FAUSTINA 

sitting in Aunt Lavinia's boudoir, where you 
had no business to take anyone.' 

' As much business as he had to take Miss 
Delafield; 

* Oh, poor fellow ! he wanted to find a 
place where he might have a little quiet talk 
with her.' 

' And why might not I want to find a 
place where I could have a little quiet talk 
with Mr. Drake ?' 

Her words sound brazenly in her own ears, 
but they are falsified by her voice, which 
a jumble of feelings, all disagreeable, makes 
shaky. 

' Drake — is that his name ? Oh, dearest 
Thee, where do you pick up such kind of 
people ?' 

'Where? In the slums, of course, where 
I reside.' 

A laugh, more hysterical than defiant, 
ornaments this reply. 

' Ned says that he is a man who has been 



DEAR FAUSTINA 203 

kicked out of society, and turned out by his 
own family, for his disgraceful opinions.' 

' Dear, charitable Ned !' 

' Of course, I took what he said with a 
grain of salt ; he was so agitated, so — well, 
so indignant at your having introduced such 
a person to Cressida Delafield !' 

' He said that / introduced Mr. Drake to 
Miss Delafield.?' 

' Yes ; he thought her so unlikely to have 
met him otherwise.' 

'If he had not been so w^arped by pre- 
judice, he might have seen that my astonish- 
ment at their being acquainted was quite as 
great as his.' 

' I told him I was sure he was wrong. 
But, oh. Thee ! Thee ! why will you know 
such people ? Ned said he was talking to 
you with — do not be angry — such offensive 
intimacy. Never mind Fanny ; she is asleep. 
Are not you, Fanny T 

' Do you know what we were talking 



204 DEAR FAUSTINA 

about ?' asks Althea in an ominously quiet 
voice. ' I am sure, when I tell you, you will 
think I am no longer worthy of a place in 
your brougham. We were talking of chr ornate 
of potash /' 



[ 205 ] 



CHAPTER X. 

No one can say that Faustina does not take 
her disappointment well. No reproach passes 
her lips. Not only does her robust philosophy 
enable her to accept the collapse of her 
scheme with cheerful equanimity, but she 
takes all the blame of its failure upon herself. 

' I ought to have better known your 
delicacy of fibre, darling. I cannot think 
what could have made me show such a want 
of adaptation of means to ends. What I 
shall not forgive myself in a hurry is the 
suffering I have been the means of inflicting 
upon you.' 

* Thank you very, very much for looking 



2o6 DEAR FAUSTINA 

at It in that way,' answers Althea, with a 
rush of gratitude. ' I might have known that 
you would take the largest, noblest view of 
my failure ; but I feared lest when you found 
how completely I had broken down in the 
only kind of work for which you had thought 
me fitted ' 

' The only kind f 

' You said so the other day/ 

' Did I ? I have no recollection of it. We 
were both a little heated with argument, 
perhaps. Even if I did say so — even if it 
were true— what would it matter compara- 
tively .-* All that is asked of such as you is 
to be r 

Here they fall into each other's arms. 
And even when they emerge, the talk keeps 
at a high level of tenderness. 

' I cannot forgive myself these dear, pale 
cheeks !' 

' If you could give me your physique, as 
well as your indomitable spirit ! It seems 



DEAR FAUSTINA 207 

ridiculous that one wound to my vanity 
should make me look as I know I do, and 
feel such a wreck. But you need not reproach 
yourself; 1 had other annoyances, too.' 

Faustina looks curious ; but not even their 
renewed condition of melting fondness, nor 
the revived heat of Althea's admiration for 
her friend, prevails upon her to dish up her 
family for that friend's delectation. 
■ Faustina does not press her; and although, 
as a rule, her own iron strength makes her 
sceptical as to anyone ever being ' not up ' to 
any exertion, she to-day insists on Althea 
abiding, like Achilles, in her tent ; while she 
herself goes forth to war against the Troy of 
' Capital ' on a trades-union platform. 

With sincere self-contempt, Althea ends 
by acquiescing. On the previous night she 
has scarcely closed an eye, and angry Nature, 
wronged of her dues, avenges herself by 
tapping with a tiresome litde hammer on 
her temples, and hanging weights on her legs. 



2o8 DEAR FAUSTINA 

* I can, at all events, do some typing,' she 
has said, in a faint effort to restore her self- 
esteem ; but when Miss Bateson has gone, 
she finds that even here she has promised 
more than she can perform. 

Her eyes swim and her hands tremble. 
There is nothing for it but to give in. Think- 
ing that the air may do her good, she puts on 
her hat, and telling the * Eliza ' of the day, 
whom she has of late been trying to lick into 
a little shape, that she is going out for a 
stroll, she saunters along Cheyne Walk until 
she reaches Old Chelsea Church, and, seeing 
the door open, wanders aimlessly in. 

She has never hitherto entered it, the 
rush of Faustina's life into which she has 
been swept leaving no leisure for the quiet 
amities of converse with the past, for which, 
indeed, and the sciences that deal with it. 
Miss Bateson has as sincere a contempt as 
it is possible to entertain. 

But as Althea stands in the little fourteenth- 



DEAR FAUSTINA 209 

century chancel, looking at the monument to 
Sir Thomas More, surmounted by his punning 
blackamoor's-head crest, a wave of tenderness 
over the departed and the bygone rolls over 
her — both over her own past — recent, insig- 
nificant, yet dear — and that greater past of 
which the gray slab before her, with its Latin 
inscription penned by him who was to lie 
beneath it, whose hallowed reliques, 'when 
the heat of persecution somewhat subsided, 
were devoutly carried to the village of Chel- 
sea,' is the representative. 

The past to the girl always means her 
father — means graceful tastes, leisurely culti- 
vation, tender high-breeding, nice honour. 
With a rush of bitter discouragement she 
feels how far, in the short space since his 
death, she has travelled from them all — all 
but the last, nice honour. 

Her cheeks begin to burn. Was her 
action, her pitiful action, of last night con- 
sistent even with that.^^ How much she has 

14 



2IO DEAR FAUSTINA 

given up ! and of what profit to herself, or to 
the Cause for which she has sacrificed her- 
self, has she been ? Her very own familiar 
friend and guide has told her, with a blunt- 
ness that she cannot blame, how valueless the 
services that had seemed to her so laborious 
in the acting had been ; that any trained 
drudge could have done them better. And 
yet the flame that burnt her was, and is, a 
true one, though in her dejection she feels 
that Faustina is beginning to disbelieve it. 
* They also serve who only stand and wait.' 
Is it to be her portion through life to * stand 
and wait,' while she sees other happier ones 
do the work and bear the palms ? 

* They also serve who only stand and wait.' 
She repeats the line aloud, thinking- that it 
is a hard saying, with hands clasped, and eyes 
still perusing the memorial to him who had 
done so much more than ' only stand and 
wait,' when the door space, over half of which 
Sir Thomas More's monument oddly projects. 



DEAR FAUSTINA 



is still further filled by the figure of a man, 
whom she at once recognizes to be Drake. 
He glances quickly round. 

'Are you alone? ' I thought I heard you 
talking.' 

She colours faintly. 

' I was — to myself. How did you know I 
was here T 

There seems to him to be in her eye some 
expected explanation of his pursuit. 

* I heard you had gone for a stroll, and, as 
I know there is not much room for strolling 
in your life generally, I feared you were 
feeling the effects of ' 

* Of last night ? Yes, I am. I have been 
assassinated by an anecdote.' 

' I would not be that if I were you.' 
' It was the one thing that Faustina thought 
I could do. It has been such a disappoint- 
ment to her, and she has borne it so 
well.' 

Her lip is trembling. 



212 DEAR FAUSTINA 

'It is a method I have never had any 
sympathy with. I have often told her 
so.' 

There is such a robust anger in his tone 
that Althea looks at him with surprise. 

' I never can quite understand your re- 
lations with Faustina. You appear intimate, 
and yet there are moments when you seem 
absolutely to dislike her.' 

' There are moments when I do absolutely 
dislike her, and the present is one.' 

There is no mistaking the out-and-out par- 
tizanship bespoken by both voice and eye, 
and a small stir of comforted warmth makes 
itself felt about her heart. Her own family 
misunderstand and chide her ; her chosen 
guide has weighed her in the balance and 
found her wanting. But this comparative 
stranger — oh no ! no longer that — himself 
proved capable of the highest self-sacrifice, 
recognizes through the wretchedness of her 
performance the high reality of her endeavour 



DEAR FAUSTINA 213 



■ — recognizes it as the truly noble are ever 
quick to recognize the dimmest spark of 
nobility in others. 

' Of course, that is only a fagon de parler, 
a way of conveying your compassion for my 
disaster,' she answers, in a voice that is more 
colourless and quiet than her eye and cheek ; 
' but I do not want kindness to-day : I want 
bracing.' 

'How is it to be done ?' 

' Did you ever feel the utter failure of faith 
in yourself that I am feeling to-day ?' she 
asks suddenly, with a carrying of the seat of 
war from the stage of her heart to his, which 
he is so unprepared for as to have no instant 
reply ready. She answers herself: ' But 
no ; the resolution that could string you up 
to such a sacrifice as yours is not likely to 
know any after- faltering.' 

' What sacrifice ? What do you mean ?' 

'You do not mind Faustina having told 
me ?' she asks gently, noting the disturbance 



214 DEAR FAUSTINA 

in his countenance. * I hope she thought I 
was worthy of the pleasure of hearing that 
such things are done, and that there are 
people to do them.' 

He looks thoroughly uncomfortable. 

' I dare say she greatly exaggerated the 
— what you are alluding to.' 

' Why should you try to depreciate, because 
you have done it yourself, an action that you 
would be the first to exalt if it had been done 
by anybody else ?' 

She has taken a brief for him thus prettily 
against himself ; but, seeing his confusion at 
being so praised, she hastens to change the 
subject. 

' I think that nothing would help so much 
to-day to cure me of my sentimental woes — 
I dare say you look upon them as no better — 
than if you were to be good enough to tell 
me of some real sorrow — some such facts as 
you were relating last night when — when we 
were interrupted.' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 215 



* Am I never to be anything but a pur- 
veyor of horrors ?' 

There is a slight impatience in his tone, 
and a little resentment in her rejoinder : 

' I thought it was the subject nearest your 
heart.' 

He gives his head a sort of toss. 

* Yes, I suppose it is ; but cannot you 
understand the wish to escape for a little 
while from the obsession of a lifelong hobby — 
and such a hobby, too ?' 

' It is new to me, and I am not yet tired 

of it; 

He lets the little fleer pass in good- 
humoured silence. They have moved from 
before the More monument, and are standing 
side by side at the old oak altar-rails — before 
that altar at which probably Henry VHI. 
stood with Jane Seymour ; at which so many 
a man and maid, in the four centuries, or 
more nearly five, since the church was 
founded, have stood to engage in that sacred 



2i6 DEAR FAUSTINA 

contract for which both the present man and 
maid, as each has been separately informed, 
feel and express so deep an abhorrence. 

The idea darts simultaneously into both 
their minds, that they look as if they were 
being married. It gives him an annoyed 
sense of being always, in reference to his 
companion, seeming something that he is 
not, and it makes her move away down the 
aisle. He follows her in silence between the 
old oak pews, upon which no architect has 
yet laid an abolishing hand. The influence 
of the place is stilling, in the completeness 
of its belonging to the departed centuries. 
Amono- the monuments there is not one 
intrusion on the part of the pushing present. 
What common-place dead of the nineteenth 
century, indeed, would venture to thrust them- 
selves into the lofty company of Sir Thomas 
More and Spenser's 'Alcyon,' to squeeze 
his paltry modern tablet between the ruined 
beauty of the resting-place of the Northumber- 



DEAR FAUSTINA 217 



land family and the superb monument where, 
recumbent and canopied, the noble Dacre pair 
await the blare of the last trumpet upon their 
altar-tomb ? 

Partly for fear of crossing her mood, partly 
because his own spirit feels the quelling of 
the historic past, thus brought before his 
bodily eyes, Drake breaks into her thoughts 
by no remark until, having made the circuit 
of the church, they stand in final contempla- 
tion before the brasses of the Northumber- 
land tomb, where the Duchess kneels with 
her fiY^ daughters behind her. A freakish 
vandalism o^ some former age has picked 
out the effigies of the five sons that once 
balanced the female members of the family. 

For the first time Althea speaks in a low 
voice, and looking curiously at the vacant 
spaces : ' I wonder which was Lord Guildford 
Dudley's — Lady Jane Grey's husband ?' 

He has nothing to suggest, and it makes 
him feel stupid. 



2i8 DEAR FAUSTINA 

' Do you know that she must have often 
come to church here ?' 

' I did not know It.' 

' And Queen Elizabeth, too, when she was 
Princess.' 

' Yes.' 

' The Countess of Nottingham — the one 
who kept back Essex's ring — is buried here.' 

Her face is flushing with delicate emotion. 
For the moment she has forgotten the Cause, 
Progress — all that has made up her life 
of late. He sees her in a new and, as it 
seems to him, a lovely light. 

' And you expected me to ^11 you /lere 
grisly anecdotes of chromate of potash and 
bisulphate of carbon !' 

With an unexpected spring she is back 
in the present. 

'You never told me anything about bi- 
sulphate of carbon.' 

He looks at her with an expression of 
decision. 



DEAR FAUSTINA 219 

* And, what is more, I will not — at least, 
not to-day, now, here f 

* Perhaps you are right ; it might give 
them bad dreams,' she says, looking round 
at the sculptured effigies ; then, with a sudden 
spring to another topic : ' I did not know 
that you were acquainted with Miss Dela- 
field.' 

' No more I am. I never saw her before 
last night, except at the meeting to which 
she alluded.' 

' Over which she was so ecstatic ?' 

' Her enthusiasm deserved a better theme; 
but I thought it pretty.' 

This is not the light in which it had struck 
Miss Vane, and she maintains a dry silence 
which she dimly feels to be ungenerous. 

' Where was it at ?' 

'At Canning Town. I was only talking 
to our own people — our dockers.' As she 
makes no comment, he presently adds : ' You 
have never seen our Settlement.' 



2 20 DEAR FAUSTINA 

' I do not think Faustina has ever been 
asked to speak there.' 

' I am sure she has not ; she came to 
loggerheads with my chief over a County 
Council election.' 

' Then, I am afraid I never shall.' 

' You are not absolutely inseparable,' he 
says, with a tinge of impatience. ' Could 
not you come without her ?' 

' By myself 7 

' If you would allow me, I should be very 
glad to be your escort.' 

Her sole answer is a slight blush; and, 
with an inward reflection how very far she 
still is from that complete emancipation from 
the trammels of convention which she 
imagines herself to have reached, he lets the 
subject drop. She harks back to the Dela- 
field topic. 

' Do you know Miss Delafield's parents — 
Lord and Lady Lanington ?' 

' I used to ; I do not know anyone now. 



DEAR FAUSTINA 



Last night I felt like Rip Van Winkle. I 
never go out in London now. I have not 
the time ; and, besides — nobody wants 
me.' 

' Nobody wants you /' 

There is a delicate flavour of incredulity 
about this repetition of his own words. 

'In my differences with my father, society, 
in so far as it troubled itself about us at all, 
which was not much, sided with him ; and, 
indeed, it was by no means altogether in 
the wrong. I was very ill-judged and in- 
temperate. If it had to be done over again, 
I should do it quite differently.' 

' But you WOULD do it ?' 

There is a fiery spark of enthusiasm in her 
eye, and an imperative anxiety in her voice, 
which make him feel that he would be com- 
pelled to give the answer she expects, even 
if it were not the true one. 

' Yes ; I should do it. And you ?' 



2 22 DEAR FAUSTINA 

* Yes. If it were to do over again, would 
you repeat your sacrifice — one so infinitely 
greater than mine ?' 

' Greater than yours /' 

Once again she has repeated his words, 
this time with an unmistakable accent of 
mixed scorn and reverence. Which of these 
emotions is for herself, which for him, is to 
the young man delightfully clear. 

'Infinitely greater,' he repeats; 'mine 
was a mere throwing away of superfluities, 
yours the abandonment of every habit and 
tradition and household tie, and I should 
imagine that household ties would be very 
dear to you ' — with a softened inflection — 
' the acceptance of every possible galling 
paltry hardship and discomfort, from drunken 
cooks upward or downward.' 

' Cook, not cooks. There was only one, 
and she left next day.' 

He laughs a little. ' She was a host in 
herself.' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 223 

' One would indeed be a poor creature if 
one could be turned aside from one's life- 
purpose by the loss of a few little luxuries. 
I confess I was ashamed to find how much I 
missed them at first ; but I very soon got 
used to doing without them ; and you must 
remember that I had Faustina to set against 
them.' 

* Yes, you had Faustina.' 

Her face, which a moment ago had 
been rippled over by a little smile of inward 
gratification at the heroic, if somewhat erro- 
neous, light in which he had set her career, 
droops again into unaffected dejection. 

'It is not the want of cotton -wool, as 
Faustina calls it — you must not think that — 
which is depressing me ; the sting lies in 
the fact that I have fallen so far short of her 
expectations. She is rather apt to idealize 
those whom she loves — do not you think so ? 
Do you happen to remember whether she 
idealized Miss Lewis ?' 



224 DEAR FAUSTINA 

The channel In which her thoughts are 
running — following the late favourite to her 
unhonoured extinction — is so obvious that 
a streak of affectionate amusement tinges the 
real sympathy in his heart. 

' Not that I recollect. It would have been 
difficult.' 

* Sometimes I think I might have done 
better if I had been with a person nearer my 
own level intellectually — someone who would 
have made mistakes too, whom I might have 
gone hand -in -hand with, helped as well as 
been helped by.' 

In their talk they have again rambled 
round the church, and have now paused 
opposite the full-length reclining figure in 
the North Chapel of the Lady Jane, who 
has lent her surname to pleasant and now 
illustrious Cheyne Walk. Neither looks at 
her, for the excellent reason that they are 
looking at each other. Althea has raised 
her eyes, full of a delicate, wistful distress, to 



DEAR FAUSTINA 225 



his, and he, for the first time off his guard, 
has dropped his plumb into them. 

' Someone whom I could have gone hand- 
in-hand with,' she repeats. 

***** 

Either Miss Vane must have spent more 
time in lionizing Old Chelsea Church than 
she was aware of, or Miss Bateson must 
have demolished ' Capital ' with fewer strokes 
of her biting eloquence than she had expected, 
for before Althea opens the door of the litde 
sitting-room she is made aware of her leader's 
return by hearing her voice in fluent inter- 
change with another female one. It strikes 
her confusedly that she has heard that other 
voice before, yet on her entrance she does not 
for the first moment recognize the figure 
seated in an attitude of eager devotion at 
Faustina s knee. It is only when six feet of 
elegant stature and perfectly-cut clothes raise 
themselves with youth's quick suppleness, 
and hasten to meet her, that, with a shock 

15 



226 DEAR FAUSTINA 

of displeased surprise, she realizes that it Is 
Miss Delafield. 

' You see that I have found out your £-z^e /' 
cries she, in a tone of childish triumph. ' I 
have made Miss Bateson's acquaintance with- 
out your kind help. Oh, why were not you 
at the meeting ? You do not know what you 
have lost. I could have listened for ever !' 

A slight flash of ironic wonder as to 
whether Drake would consider this enthu- 
siasm — so identical In quality, and equal in 
quantity, to what his own speech had called 
forth — as ' pretty ' as he had done when he 
himself had evoked it, darts athwart Althea s 
mind, but she remains tongue-bound. 

* I do not know whether you will endorse 
Miss Bateson's invitation,' continues the 
visitor, with a very faint cloud of doubt 
resting on her radiant brow, ' but she has 
most kindly invited me to stay with you for 
a couple of nights.' 

' To s^ay with us !' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 227 

There is such undisguised consternation in 
the accent with which this is uttered that 
Faustina comes to the rescue. 

* Miss Delafield expressed such a strong 
curiosity to know how we working women 
Hve, that I told her her best plan would be 
to come back with me and make practical 
trial of it. I have engaged to treat her 
exactly as one of ourselves.' 

She says it with calm good-humour, as 
if suggesting the most natural and feasible 
project imaginable. 

Althea's brain whirls round like a peg-top. 

' I do not understand. Our accommodation 
is so limited, the space so cramped ' 

' I have arranged all that Miss Delafield 
will have my room.' 

' And you ?' 

'I? Oh, I shall swing a hammock in the 
passage ; I have often done it before.' 



[ 228 ] 



CHAPTER XL 

For the next two days there can be no 
manner of doubt that the inhabitants of 
4, More Mansions are inconveniently thick 
upon the ground. To two of the ladies thus 
brought into such close juxtaposition this 
overcrowding is a matter of supreme indif- 
ference. The newcomer, indeed, evidently 
regards it as a delightful picnic — a piquant 
and salutary change from the large and 
luxurious dulness of Grosvenor Square. 
Her one heartfelt regret is that it is not 
she who is to swing in the hammock. 

With a rather acrid interest Althea 
watches the stranger taking the fences 



DEAR FAUSTINA 229 

over which she herself had so sadly bungled, 
and speculates whether the superior gusto 
with which she attacks the unappetizing 
food is due to the fact that she knows that 
the experiment is to end in forty-eight hours, 
or to some superior toughness of fibre. The 
amusement with which she sees her own 
history repeated is so diluted by other feel- 
ings as to be hardly amusement at all. 

The fact that Lord and Lady Lanington 
are entirely ignorant of their daughter's 
escapade, but think her, during a short 
absence of their own, safely chaperoned by 
an aunt, though imparted to her as a good 
joke, does not strike her as highly comic ; 
neither does the possibility of Edward's dis- 
covering his beloved's freak, and attributing 
to her — Althea — the credit of it. 

But superior in pain to either of these 
causes of disquiet is the discovery of what 
unsuspected capacities for jealousy lie in her 
own breast. Faustina is, if possible, more 



230 DEAR FAUSTINA 

demonstratively tender than ever to her 
when they are alone ; but the memory of the 
rise of their reciprocal devotion is too recent 
for her not to be able to trace an exact 
reproduction of its earlier stages in Miss 
Bateson's method of recommending herself 
to the newcomer. Little tricks of phrase, 
slight but expressive caresses, which she had 
believed to belong to her alone, she now 
sees to have an equal fitness of application 
to another. 

Faustina's apparent unconsciousness of 
giving any cause for offence, coupled with 
her own sense of shame at harbouring such 
suspicions of her al^er egos fidelity, make 
her struggle painfully against her wounded 
feelings during the two days of Miss Dela- 
field's visit ; but on the morning of her de- 
parture Althea's self-command breaks down 
under a new and final provocation. 

' I am afraid, darling, I must let you go 
to the committee meeting at the Pickaxe 



DEAR FAUSTINA 231 

Club this afternoon by yourself. Cressida 
has asked me ' 

* Cressida ! Have you got to '' Cressida " 
already ?' 

* How long was it before I got to 
** Althea " ?' — with sly tenderness. 

' Do you mean to imply that this is a 
parallel case ?' 

Faustina looks at her flushed subaltern 
with a cool surprise — cool, though her words 
have the customary boiling affection. 

' A parallel case ! Is it likely, my own ? 
But you are not going to pick a quarrel with 
me because I wish to escort the poor little 
girl to her aunt's door ? She has to go there 
for a night or two, so as to hoodwink her 
people.' 

' Does not it strike you that that is rather 
underhand ?' 

Miss Bateson makes a gesture of supreme 
indifference. 

' Parents have only themselves to thank 



232 DEAR. FAUSTINA 

If, in their efforts to make water run uphill, 
they develop duplicity in their children.' 

Althea is too angry to rejoin — a result of 
the situation which the soothing tone of her 
friend's next words seems calculated to meet. 

' You may be very sure, sweetest, that I 
shall not go beyond the door, as the old 
Countess is, it seems, a ten-fossil-power 
obstructive.' 

In ordinary times Althea would not have 
felt the smallest inclination to take up the 
cudgels for the lady in question, but to a 
wrathful hand no weapon comes amiss. 

' Are not you rather fond of calling names ?' 
she asks, in a very quiet voice, which yet 
strikes a sort of surprised alarm into Faus- 
tina's stout heart ; and without giving her 
time to reply to the not very conciliatory 
question, the younger woman goes on : 

* That reminds me to ask you whether you 
would give up always alluding to my people 
as '' Philistines " and '' Philistia "? It did not 



DEAR FAUSTINA 233 

matter once in a way when we were alone, 
but a crystallized joke becomes tiresome, do 
not you think ?' 

* I had not an idea that you minded.' 

' I mind very much. As I am very fond 
of my brother Edward, it hurts me a good 
deal to hear him spoken of to a perfect 
stranger as Goliath of Gath.' 

Faustina's cheek takes on its rare and 
dusky flush. 

' Why did not you mention it before ?' she 
asks in a tone of real and unresentful concern. 
' Of course, you shall never have to complain 
of it again. Do not you know that I had 
rather cut out my tongue than that it should 
wound you ? I am afraid I am not very 
sensitive myself; my life of struggle has not 
allowed me to be so ; and sometimes my 
high spirits run away with me. Forgive my 
clumsiness, dear, and believe that I had 
rather die a thousand deaths than give your 
tender spirit the very least wound !' 



234 DEAR FAUSTINA 

The amende is magnificent, and puts 
Althea completely in the wrong, as she 
remorsefully feels ; but that does not hinder 
her being very wretched, as she sees from 
the gimcrack little one-foot balcony of their 
drawing-room the two other ladies gaily get 
into their hansom, and trot away behind a 
good fresh horse. 

The wretchedness pursues her through the 
committee meeting, conscientiously attended, 
where she has to excuse Miss Bateson's non- 
appearance, and be made to feel how poor a 
substitute she is for her. It buses home 
with her to the flat, which she finds still 
empty of its joint occupier. The servant has 
gone out, and the dispirited girl has not 
energy to make herself a cup of tea. 

Among her more real grievances, the 
rather fanciful one of the epithet used by 
Faustina to her takes an undue and ridicu- 
lous prominence. The adjective ' tender ' is 
generally held to be a flattering one ; but 



DEAR FAUSTINA 235 

when applied to a ' spirit,' it carries with it a 
sense of incapacity, brittleness, futiHty. 

Since the word * Out ' is, as she beHeves, 
still affixed to her name in the hall below, it 
is with no expectation of a visitor, but rather 
of a tradesman or of the truant Eliza, that 
Althea answers in person the sharp, quivering 
thrill of the electric bell. 

' You are in ! The porter told me you had 
been back half an hour, and ' — lowering a 
cautious voice, and peeping through the 
half-opened door before venturing a bronze 
shoe over the threshold — ' nobody else at 
home ?' 

' Nobody ; I am absolutely and entirely 
alone. ' 

Thus reassured, Clare, for it is she, steps 
in, though still hesitating. 

' And are you likely to be alone for a few 
minutes ?' 

' That is more than I can tell you. I am 
expecting Faustina back at any moment.' 



236 DEAR FAUSTINA 

The answer is made without any symptom 
of indignation at the implied hope of avoiding 
Miss Bateson, a fact which her sister notes 
with inward surprise, and is accompanied by 
a warm hug, and an ' Oh, I a7/i glad to see 
you ! How nice of you to come !' 

There can be no doubt as to the verity of 
the feeling expressed ; nor is Mrs. Boteler 
the person to risk hurting the feelings of 
even anyone whom she disliked by rebutting 
their endearments ; and yet there is un- 
doubted embarrassment in her way of rather 
accepting than returning her sister's kisses. 

' Do not be too sure that it is nice of me.' 

' What do you mean ?' 

' Do not be too sure that I have not come 
to make myself disagreeable.' 

' To make yourself disagreeable ! Oh, do 
not, do not !' 

There is such a piercing accent of appeal 
in the words that Clare looks at her 
curiously. 



DEAR FAUSTINA 237 



' Why not ? D9 you mean that anyone 
has been beforehand with me ?' 

' No, no ; rather the other way. But why 
should you ? I have not done anything 
fresh, have I ?' 

To this rather plaintive cry for mercy Mrs. 
Boteler's answer is delayed, through the dis- 
traction of her attention to a fresh object. 
They have reached the drawing-room, which 
can hardly be said to be looking its best. 

' My dear creature !' looking round with a 
sort of gasp. * What a dog-hole ! and /low 
untidy !' 

Althea's pale face takes on a faint red. 

' Very busy people cannot have everything 
in as apple-pie order as those who do nothing, 
and have a score of lackeys to help them.' 

The phrase is Batesonian. A year ago 
Althea would never have thought of alluding 
to a footman as a ' lackey '; and in her own 
ear it perhaps rings a little offensively, for 
she adds in quite a different key : 



238 DEAR FAUSTINA 



' We are not generally in such disorder ; 
but just before she left Faustina turned out 
a whole drawerful of papers in search of a 
list of members of a society, which she wanted 
to show to ' 

Miss Vane makes a sudden break off. 

' To show to Cressida Delafield,' says Clare, 
finishing the sentence in a cold voice. ' You 
need not hesitate to mention her ; I know 
that she has been staying here.' 

Once again Althea reddens. 

'Yes ; she has been here for two days.' 

She begins as she speaks, partly to hide 
her own emotion, partly to clear a seat for 
her sister, to make short work with Faus- 
tina's literary litter, a labour in which she is 
arrested by Clare's next sentence, spoken 
almost under her breath. 

* And you were Edward's favourite sister !' 

The past tense used in such a connection 
would always have cut Althea to the quick ; 
but just now, when she has been feeling so 



DEAR FAUSTINA 239 

heart and home sick, it goes nigh to over- 
setting her. 

' You need not tell me that I no longer am 
so,' she answers drearily ; 'but I do not see 
what that has got to say to it.' 

' I own that he has not been quite fair to 
you, poor old fellow ! but, oh, I did not think - 
you would have stooped to such a revenge !' 

Althea makes no answer. She has sat 
down, a sort of dismal pleasure in seeing how 
much injustice can be heaped upon her from 
all sides tying her tongue. 

But from her silence Clare draws the 
natural, though erroneous, inference of her 
acquiescence. 

' I told you that you need not thank me 
for coming. My one object was to beg you 
— but I fear I might have saved my labour — 
to choose some other victim.' 

Still silence. 

* She was quite inclined to like him until 
you set her against him.' 



240 DEAR FAUSTINA 

Silence. 

' She will never do you any credit ; she is 
really very silly — far sillier than Fanny.' 

Silence. 

* I cannot but think you might have spared 
her.' 

It is a provision of Nature that, when an 
emotion becomes too acute to be represented 
by the words or action appropriate to it, it 
borrows those used to portray its opposite. 
There is a joy that can speak itself only in 
tears, and when vexation has reached its most 
poignant degree it translates itself by a laugh. 

Althea has now attained to that pitch, and 
she bursts out laughing. 

'You must forgive me,' she says ; ' but do 
you imagine that it was by my invitation 
that Cressida Delafield came here ?' 

' By whose else ?' 

Althea has risen, and two steps bring her 
face to face — with angry eyes on a level — to 
her sister. 



DEAR FAUSTINA 241 

' Then, let me tell you ' — she feels a 
sensible relief in thus venting her pent 
passion — ' that you can't detest her being 
here more cordially than I did and do !' 

There is no mistaking the accent of truth 
that rings through this fiery disclaimer, and 
the anger in Mrs. Boteler's eyes dies into 
bewilderment. 

' But I do not understand. If you did not 
ask her, who did ? I happen to know that 
less than a week ago she did not know that 
— did not know Miss Bateson.' 

* She scraped acquaintance with her at a 
meeting.' 

* And you had no hand in it ?' 

To Althea such a question hardly seems 
worth answering, and her brief ' None !' 
making Clare still maintain a dubious silence, 
she bursts forth with concentrated indignation : 

' Is it because I have tried to live my life 
by my lights, however dim, that you have 
thought me capable of such baseness ?' 

16 



242 DEAR FAUSTINA 

Mrs. Boteler's answer is to turn the hose 
of her resentment upon an object which she 
is always dehghted to deluge. 

'It was Faustina's doing, of course! I 
might have known it. She never could bear 
him !' 

' Faustina has some better employment in 
life than the wreaking of petty spites,' re- 
joins the younger sister in a tone which 
makes Mrs. Boteler feel extremely small, 
' even if she knew that there was a spite to 
wreak ; but, little as you may believe it, I am 
not in the habit of regaling her with my 
family's weaknesses.' 

' You mean that she does not know about 
poor Ned ?' 

' She knows as little as she would care if 
she did know.' 

' Then, what could have been her motive ?' 

' If you can conquer your prejudices 
enough to credit her for once with an 
innocent one, you may believe that it was 



DEAR FAUSTINA 243 

simply because Miss Delafield expressed a 
wish to see how people like us — working 
women — lived.' 

The expression grates upon Clare's ear — 
it is probable that it was meant to do so — 
almost as much as the icy tone, so different 
from the tender expansion of her sister's 
earlier greeting, chills her. 

' I hope she was pleased with the experi- 
ment,' she says dryly. 

' I believe so ; in fact ' — with bitterness — 
' she will probably repeat it before long.' 

Mrs. Boteler throws out her hands with a 
gesture of desperation. 

' Then Ned will go mad !' 

' Judging from his actions, he is not far 
from it already !' 

The tone is one of ire still well on the boil, 
but Clare does not seem to notice it. 

' Cannot you hinder it ? But of course 
you can ! Your paramount influence with 
Faustina ' 



244 DEAR FAUSTINA 

Althea winces. Is her influence indeed so 
paramount ? But she only says : 

' Do you think it easy to tell persons that 
their acquaintance is considered so damaging 
that they are requested to withdraw it ?' 

' Oh, there are ways of doing things !' cries 
Clare urgently ; ' you know that as well as I. 
Tell her how little credit Cressida will ever do 
her. What a fool she is ! She is really far 
sillier than Fanny.' 

As Fanny has always been the recognized 
foolometer of the Vane family, neither of the 
sisters sees anything unkind or unusual in 
the comparison. 

' I could not say anything in detraction of 
her,' says Althea sadly and proudly ; ' it 
would be unworthy ; and, besides, it would 
look like jealousy.' 

There is an uneasy pause, broken by the 
visitor. 

' It is not so much, or, at least, not only, 
Faustina's influence that he dreads ; he has 



DEAR FAUSTINA 245 

a terror of her meeting men here — men of 
the type of — of that Mr. Drake, who has a 
sort of good looks, has not he ? and is a 
plausible kind of person. Though Cressida 
looks such a baby, she is nearly of age ; and 
Ned is in terror lest this Mr. Drake, or 
someone like him, should try to get hold of 
her for the sake of her fortune.' 

To Mrs. Boteler's unfeigned surprise, 
Althea's first answer to this speech is a 
deluge of crimson that submerges face and 
throat. It is followed bywords that match it: 

' I should have thought that one who had 
given up twenty thousand pounds a year for 
conscience' sake scarcely came under the 
head of a vulgar and mercenary adven- 
turer. ' 

Clare's jaw drops. 

' Twenty thousand a year ! But are you 
sure of it ?' 

' Quite sure.' 

' Did he tell you so himself.'*' 



246 DEAR FAUSTINA 

A slight Ironic curl of Althea's lip shows 
that she detects the implied incredulity. 
' No ; I was told by another person.' 
Miss Vane alludes thus vaguely to her 
authority because she is aware that, if she 
gave it up, an even superior degree of dis- 
belief to that already shown by her sister 
would attend it. 

' Twenty thousand a year !' repeats Clare, 
in that tone of deep respect which in the 
mouth of even the best of Britons always 
attends the mention of a large sum of money. 

* Then why was he ki ' 

' Kicked out of society !' says Althea, 
snatching the words out of her sister's mouth, 
as if she could not bear to hear them uttered 
by any tongue but her own. ' If you re- 
member, in former ages of the world there 
were people to whom the same thing hap- 
pened ; they even went a step further, and 
wandered about in sheepskins and goat- 
skins ' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 247 

' My dear Thee !' — in shocked interruption 
— ' are you classing this man with the 
saints ?' 

The never-quite-ebbed red rushes back over 
Althea's cheeks as the outraged common- 
sense of Clare's words brings home to her 
the fact that she is making a fool of herself. 
But she does what is, perhaps, the wisest 
course to pursue in such a case — she sticks 
to her guns, and even fires a new volley with 
yet more smoke and smell of sulphur than 
before. 

' I class him with the martyrs of humanity, 
the noble and good, who in all ages have 
been wronged and misinterpreted by the 
ignoble because they were incapable of com- 
prehending them.' 

This tirade has for the moment the effect 
of reducing its auditor to a dismayed 
silence, and it is in a tone of shocked ap- 
prehension that she at length brings out the 
words : 



248 DEAR FAUSTINA 

' You take up the cudgels very warmly for 
him. If I had had any idea that he was 
such an intimate friend of yours ' 

' I never said that he was a friend of mine ; 
it is no question of friendship. But I have 
suffered too much myself from being mis- 
judged and misunderstood not to stand up 
for anyone whom I see wronged, though in 
a thousandfold greater degree, in the same 
way.' 

The speech is hostile, but the voice is so 
trembling, and the eyes so bright with 
imminent tears, that no feeling of anger — 
rather one of yearning pity and affection — 
is produced by the somewhat offensive words 
in Clare's heart. 

' Do not you think that you may have 
misunderstood us a little, too ?' she asks 
sadly. ' And as to — Mr. Drake, I dare say 
that Ned may have been misinformed about 
him ; and in any case we need not say more 
about him, as I feel sure that there is no 



DEAR FAUSTINA 249 

cause for alarm in the case of Cressida Dela- 
field with regard to him.' 

Whether intentionally or not, she lays a 
slight stress upon the name — a stress which 
conveys to her hearer the impression that the 
freedom from danger is limited to the lady 
indicated. It makes another lady turn away 
and begin to finger uneasily and uncon- 
sciously Faustina's papers. In spite of 
Clare's assertion that there need now be no 
further mention of Drake, her very next 
speech relates to him : 

' Is he one of the Devonshire Drakes ?' 

' Yes ; at least ' — she would have weakly 
liked to leave the ' Yes ' unqualified, but con- 
science forbids — ' his mother was.' 

' And his father ?' 

' His father owns a chemical factory in the 
East End, which brings him in twenty 
thousand a year.' 

' And which this man will not inherit ?' — 
with an accent of scarcely-veiled regret. 



250 DEAR FAUSTINA 

Althea draws her head up proudly, as if 
proclaiming some noble deed done by one 
near akin to her. 

' He has renounced it because he has a 
foolish prejudice against fattening upon the 
hearts' blood of his fellow-creatures, and for 
such a crime society has naturally kicked 
him out.' 



[ 251 ] 



CHAPTER XII. 

The project of introducing Miss Vane to the 
scene of his labours in Canning Town is too 
dear to Drake's heart to be let go ; and he 
does not rest till he has found a means of 
combining its execution with what he would 
not for worlds, even to his own heart, call 
Althea's prudery. Since not all the generous 
precepts of Faustina can reconcile Miss Vane 
to making such an excursion tete-a-tete — and, 
indeed, he has never gone near to repeating 
the -overture — he has called to his aid a female 
friend and fellow-worker of his own, who, 
with a newly - married and like - minded 
husband, has pitched her tent in the Settle- 



252 DEARIFAUSTINA 

ment ; and under her auspices, with Drake 
for guide, Althea has visited each and every 
portion of the work — infirmary, lodging- 
house, recreation hall, lads' club, residence, 
etc. Her quiet yet fervid appreciation of 
the energy, the method, the selfless, tireless 
industry, the high hope, the large love, that 
have gone to build this unpretending ark in 
the middle of the wretched human sea around, 
seems to him to set upon his share of labour 
a crown far beyond his deserts. 

To her the realization of the post he 
occupies — modestly, yet worthily, filled — in 
that great army, of which she feels herself 
to be but a lagging straggler, gives her a 
reasonless personal exultation. She does not 
think it necessary to mention to Miss Bateson 
that first visit, any more than those which 
follow it, explaining to herself her silence by 
the knowledge that Faustina has quarrelled 
with the Warden of the Settlement. 

Althea has more time on her hands than 



DEAR FAUSTINA 253 

during the first portion of her stay at More 
Mansions. Neither she nor Drake puts the 
perception Into words, but both are keenly 
aware that Faustina, under one pretext or 
another, Is more and more separating her so 
lately Inseparable comrade from her own work. 
When they are together, she is, if possible, 
more effusive than ever ; but the shower 
of sugared phrases that hail round the 
younger girl when In presence cannot blind 
her to the fact that, as regards all serious 
concerns, a daily deeper fosse is being dug 
between them. It Is In part, though only in 
part, to ease the ache of her bitter pain at the 
withdrawal of that confidence, which had once 
been so full and complete, that she has sought 
the distraction of other interests. 

' Shall you want me this evening, Faustina ?' 
she asks one day. 

Faustina is writing, but looks up for a 
second. 

' Do not I always want you ?' 



254 DEAR FAUSTINA 



' But have you any special employment for 
me ?' 

' i\ny special employment ?' repeats Miss 
Bateson. ' Not that I can think of at this 
moment ; but even if I had, do you suppose 
that I should allow myself to tyrannize over 
your disposal of your time ?' 

' I only put the question because I rather 

wish — I have been asked ' She stumbles, 

embarrassed, and the other comes to her 
aid. 

' Do not tell me — never tell me what you 
wish to do, but do it. The maintenance of 
individual liberty is the true basis of friend- 
ship.' 

Althea is by no means sure that she 
admires this magnificent axiom, which rings 
rather differently from some of its predecessors 
shrined in her memory ; but at least it leaves 
her untrammelled for the social evening in 
Canning Town, which is the engagement she 
has alluded to. On this occasion she is her- 



DEAR FAUSTINA 255 

self to give the tea and entertainment to the 
club of factory girls ; and though the manner 
of her dismissal has sent her off with rather a 
weighted heart, yet by the time she reaches 
Liverpool Street it is sensibly lightened. 

Drake meets her at the station, and they 
walk up together to the house of his ally, Mrs. 
Crabbe, where they are to have a preliminary 
tea on their own account. 

' I am afraid you will find us rather rough 
to-night,' he says, as they pace the broad 
mean thoroughfare in happy comradeship — 
' since at your request the girls have been 
given leave to bring their friends.' 

He glances sideways at her a little doubt- 
fully, but she takes the news with joyous 
lightness ; it even seems to put a more 
dancing gaiety into eye and step. 

* You need not try to frighten me.' 

* I only want to prepare you. The 
" friends " are often job hands, who are 
always much rougher than the regular ones. 



256 DEAR FAUSTINA 

They are of the class who go hop-picking, 
and have not a very high standard of polite- 
ness.' 

She looks back at him cheerfully. 

' All the better ; we shall have the more 
glory in humanizing them.' 

The entertainment is not held in the large 
recreation hall, but in a smaller room, which 
it is supposed will meet the requirements of 
the invitations issued. A slight misgiving 
as to the accuracy of this calculation assails 
the breasts of the organizers of the feast, as 
their little party, swelled by the amateur 
performers whom Althea has pressed into 
her service, enter the room, and see how 
thickly the benches are already packed. 

But at first there seems no need for Drake's 
warning to Althea, since the expectant 
audience are behaving nearly as well as if 
they were seated in St. James's Hall. 

Althea makes her way among them, 
speaking to those she knows. She has 



DEAR FAUSTINA 257 



already made a good many friends on former 
occasions, particularly in a group of girls 
whom Drake has pointed out to her as 
having been turned off by their employer for 
having given evidence to the factory inspector 
of having been worked over-hours. On her 
last visits she had danced with them, trying 
to teach them the pretty measures that 
D'Egville had taught her, and had essayed 
to persuade them that the human face is not 
really improved by being ringed or half 
ringed by a semicircle of patent hair-curlers. 
It has puzzled her to reflect for what great 
occasions the imprisoned locks can be set 
free, since she has never seen her young- 
friends without their hair-curlers. She has 
even consulted Drake, but he has been 
unable to enlighten her. 

To-night she finds that, though the inventor 
has bested her, his votaries bear her no malice 
for her unsuccessful effort to dethrone him, 
but greet her with loud acclaim. She is still 

17 



258 DEAR FAUSTINA 



responding to their greetings, when Drake 
makes his way to her through the crowded 
rows. 

' I think we had better begin ; it is no use 
waiting till they have all come ; there seems 
no end to the arrivals.' 

He glances a little anxiously towards 
the doorway, which is filled with would-be 
enterers, beyond whom glimpses of a sea 
of velvet hats and hired ostrich-plumes still 
surging up the stairs is caught. She nods 
assentingly. 

' My party is going to be the success of the 
season.' 

The first two performers mount the plat- 
form, and execute a noisy duet — how noisy 
is only noticed when its cessation proves 
how large a clamour it has been covering. 
The ' friends ' are still thronging in, and a 
rising excitement is apparent among the girls, 
a pushing and hustling — perfectly good- 
humoured, as is evidenced by the loud laughter 



DEAR FAUSTINA 259 



that accompanies It, but not quite reassuring 
to the onlookers. The duet is succeeded by 
a song, but there is a delay before it can be 
uttered with any chance of being heard, and 
the partial lull that had accompanied It is 
made up for by a redoublement of tempest at 
its close. All the available seats have long 
been seized upon, and every inch of standing- 
room is now more than filled, while elemental 
sarcasm and loud repartee begin to be ban- 
died about, and the wail of a cross and un- 
comfortable baby pierces the air. The tea- 
table Is set along the wall close to the door 
of entrance at the back of the room, and in 
front of it the giver of the feast has taken her 
stand, in a space between it and the last row 
of chairs, which would have been ample had 
the number of the guests not so far out- 
swelled what had been expected. As it is, 
the limits assigned to her sway have been so 
hopelessly overstepped that she begins very 
seriously to wish that she could get behind 



26o • DEAR FAUSTINA 

the board that groans with her intended 
hospitahty. But this is impossible. The 
table is long and heavy, and in the packed 
state of the room it would be impossible to 
move it without serious risk. Althea looks 
round, with incipient nervousness, for Drake ; 
but his turn is come, and he has just succeeded 
on the platform a lady who, with a relieved 
air, has borne away the violin on which she 
has been performing a classical solo. Althea 
has never heard Drake sing, and for a few 
minutes she forgets the discomfort of her own 
position in the pleasure of listening to him. 
For these few minutes the pressure around 
her is less, the audience paying to him the 
tribute, which they have denied to every 
previous performance, of an almost entire 
cessation of punching and giggling. 

' Jack's the boy for work, 
Jack's the boy for play, 
Jack's the lad 
When girls are sad 
To kiss their tears away.' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 261 

Down the long room, through the hot and 
loaded atmosphere, the pleasant tenor comes 
ringing. They applaud uproariously both 
singer and sentiment. But the performer 
who takes his place is not so fortunate in 
enchaining their attention. It is a little 
lady, who embarks on a recitation of a gently 
comic character. Her voice is not a strong 
one, and is evidently rendered lower and 
more indistinct by her having to face an 
audience of so unruly a kind. Facetious 
comments upon performer and performance 
begin to be distressingly audible ; but it is 
at the back of the room that the sedition 
is growing most alarming. It has been 
arranged that tea is to be served as soon 
as the trembling lady on the platform shall 
have ended ; and, with this view, boiling 
water has, at some peril to life and limb, 
owing to the press, just been poured into the 
urns. Whether the sight is too much for the 
patience of the hungry and frolicsome girls, or 



262 DEAR FAUSTINA 

that the spirit of horse-play is too potent to 
be any longer kept within bounds, certain it 
is that at this point one of the guests makes 
a snatch at a bun. Her nearest neighbours 
follow suit ; others pillage the cake and 
bread-and-butter dishes ; and one or two 
seize cups and turn the taps of the urns. 
The depredations have been begun by the 
standing ones, but those who have seats are 
determined not to be behindhand, and with 
horror Althea sees them scrambling over 
their chair-backs and hasting as fast as the 
encumbered nature of the ground will let 
them to the buffet. 

The pressure around her is growing suffo- 
cating, and in another second she feels that 
it must pin her crushed and helpless against 
the wall. But she tries to keep her presence 
of mind, and to find words cogent enough to 
make an impression upon the riotous but 
still quite good-humoured mass around her. 
That her appeal is not altogether vain is 



DEAR FAUSTINA 263 

evidenced by a voice that she hears from the 
direction of the chairs, whence the stampede 
is still continuing, a voice addressing its 
neighbours in urgent entreaty : 

' For Gawd's sake, sit down !' 

But the spirit of misrule is too fully at 
large to be reined in by any such invocation, 
and the sounds begin to come huskily from 
Althea's oppressed chest, when she becomes 
aware, by an additional squeezing and cram- 
ming of the rioters around her, that someone 
is making vigorous efforts to clear a way 
through their mass, and in another second, 
to her infinite relief, she sees Drake shoulder- 
ing his way with little ceremony to her side. 

It is a long minute yet before he reaches 
her, but his voice rings out clear and sharp 
ahead of him : 

' Are not you ashamed of yourselves ? Go 
back to your seats ; and those who have not 
any, stand still.' 

It is the same voice whose utterance of 



264 DEAR FAUSTINA 



the swaggering sailor song they have so 
lately applauded, and its effect is instan- 
taneous. The pillaging hands cease to 
pillage, and there is an evident, though 
only partial, effort to obey him. It enables 
him to ofain Althea's side — was she ever 
before so glad to see him ? though even at 
this moment it flashes upon her as a revela- 
tion that she has never been anything but 
glad — and, putting her behind him, he stands 
shieldwise before her, while again his voice 
rings out. 

' Is this your gratitude to the lady who is 
so kindly giving you this entertainment ? If 
this is the way that we treat her, do you 
think that she is very likely to come among 
us again ?' 

Whether it is that his audience are touched 
by his thus bracketing himself with them, or 
subdued by the authority of his tones, is un- 
certain, but for a moment or two the tumult 
dies into almost silence. There is an evident 



DEAR FAUSTINA 265 



disposition among the major part of the 
offenders to comply with Drake's request as 
far as they are able ; but a proportion of less 
well-dispositioned girls still try to revive the 
subsiding riot by fresh shoving and horse- 
play and loud personalities. 

It is just touch and go which element gains 
the upper hand, when the arrival of a timely 
aid, in the shape of several male members of 
the Settlement, decides the question. In ten 
minutes order is almost entirely restored, 
and in another the abundant libations of 
tea poured on the floor, through the turning 
of the urn-taps, have been wiped up, fresh 
tea made, and the rifled cake and bread-and- 
butter dishes replenished. 

' It is all right now. I can get you out 
into the open air quite easily.' 

She looks back at him with a spirited, pale 
smile. 

' Why should you get me into the open 
air ? I am not faint.' 



266 DEAR FAUSTINA 

' Appearances are deceitful, then. I f you 
take my advice ' 

' I do not think it at all likely ' 

' You will let me escort you to Mrs. 
Crabbe's house, where you can be cool and 
rest.' 

' I do not want to be cool and rest. I 
want to pour out tea.' 

' You have not had enough yet ?' with eye- 
brows raised, and an expressive glance at a 
large area of tea-stains on her linen gown. 

' Not nearly.' 

She is still very white, and her limbs 
trembling from the stress of her late en- 
counter ; but her look is so cheerfully radiant, 
and her words so determined, that he makes 
no further effort to dissuade her. Only he 
keeps near her through the rest of the 
function to ward off any possible repetition 
of disorder. 

No sign of any such occurs ; the second 
part of the programme is gone through 



DEAR FAUSTINA 267 

peacefully, and at its close the girls troop 
out in orderly good-humour. Althea's hand 
would have been glad if quite so many had 
not insisted on shaking it, but her heart does 
not endorse the sentiment. 

Later, Drake walks with her to the station, 
through the street alive with its ugly even- 
ing noisiness, but over-smiled by a great 
moon. She has forgotten to think whether 
it is proper, and knows only that it is 
pleasant. Her gown is torn, her legs still 
shake, but her heart is strangely light. 

' I still think that my party was the success 
of the season,' she says, with gay defiance of 
contradiction of her paradox. 

It strikes him that he has never seen her 
gay before ; and how well it becomes her ! 

' You had a pretty bad moment, too, in the 
course of it.' 

' Yes, 07te. It was not a pleasant idea to 
be spatch-cocked against the wall ; but the 
instant I saw you I knew that it was all right.' 



268 DEAR FAUSTINA 

The phrase, so innocently turned, stirs 
him too deeply for him to find an answer, 
and she prattles happily on : 

' And they were so nice afterwards ! Did 
you see how they shook hands with me ? 
And some of them wiped my gown with 
their own pocket-handkerchiefs, and one of 
them lent me a smelling-bottle.' 

' It was the least they could do, after 
nearly squeezing the life out of you,' he 
answers with a slight shudder, adding, as if in 
excuse for his emotion : ' It might have been 
an extremely nasty accident.' 

She goes on — he has never known her so 
talkative : 

' It was our own fault. We ought to have 
had the big hall. Next time, if we invite 
"friends," we must have the big hall.' 

' Nex^ time ? Will there ever be a next 
time ? Do you mean to say that, after the 
way in which we have treated you to-night, 
you will ever venture among us again i^' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 269 

They have reached the station, and by one 
consent pause facing each other, ere enter- 
ing it. Her gay excitement gives way to a 
touched gravity. 

' Bver venture among you again /' she says, 
repeating his words. ' Do you know that 
sometimes — often of late — it has struck me 
that, if it were not for Faustina and all I 
owe her, I should like to come among you 
for good !' 



[ 270 ] 



CHAPTER XIII. 

It Is In a very much brighter mood than she 
has for some time enjoyed that Althea, on 
the following morning, Is walking through 
the Park on an errand for Faustina. She 
does not pry too nicely Into the component 
parts of her good spirits, though. If the ques- 
tion were pressed, she could give a very 
handsome and creditable account of them. 

But there Is no use to seek officiously an 
explanation of her unwonted light-hearted- 
ness ; and she enjoys it, as she does the 
flower-beds between Stanhope and Grosvenor 
Gates, which are just beginning to develop 
the intricate beauty of their bedded-out pat- 



DEAR FAUSTINA 271 

terns, and console the ' fond gazer ' for the 
departed hyacinths and tuHps. 

She is quickening her pace as she nears 
the Marble Arch, and the floral temptations 
to linger lessen, when she is aware that one 
of the carriages rolling in the same direction 
as herself is pulling up at the rails alongside 
of her. 

She has got into the habit of not looking 
at the occupants of any of the barouches and 
victorias that pass or meet her, in order to 
avoid the tiresomeness of recognition by some 
of the former acquaintances from whom her 
present course of life has separated her ; but 
a glance at the large smart vehicle which 
has evidently stopped d son intention is now 
unavoidable, and in its solitary occupant she 
at once recognizes the mother of Cressida 
Delafield. 

Despite her real innocence of any sin 
against Lady Lanington's peace, she is the 
one of her late society whom she would least 



272 DEAR FAUSTINA 



soon have come across ; and it is with a 
sinking heart that, in obedience to the 
sound of her own name, she now stays her 
steps. 

' Oh, Miss Vane, I am going in your direc- 
tion.' 

An earnest desire to avoid the ' lift ' so 
obviously about to be offered is ' writ so 
large ' on Althea's face that the person who 
has addressed her adds hastily : 

' Indeed, in whatever direction you are 
going — it is all one to me — may I take you ?' 

To so limitless an invitation refusal is out 
of the question, and the girl — since the 
blessed ' I had rather not,' which would 
rescue us all from so many unpleasant plea- 
sures, is relegated to Utopia — with a civil 
answer and leaden heels, walks on the few 
necessary steps to the next opening in the 
railings, and in another moment the two 
ladies are seated side by side, and the vehicle, 
after Althea has given an address of which 



DEAR FAUSTINA 273 

the coachman feels, or feigns, a dignified 
ignorance, rolls on again. 

' I wanted so much to meet you,' is the 
elder's opening. 

The younger is so very far from echoing 
this wish that a smile, which may pass at a 
pinch for one of acquiescence, is the ' nearest 
thing she can do ' to it. 

' I thought of writing to you.' 

' Did you ?' 

' But I could not help feeling that a per- 
sonal appeal would be better.' 

' An — an appeal ?' 

' Only I did not know how to manage it. 
You are never to be seen anywhere about 
now, and Cressida has positively refused to 
give me your address.' 

indeed!' 

' I was so fond of your father, and I always 
used to like you so much.' 

The exceeding discomfort of Althea's mind 
in her present situation is here crossed by 

18 



274 DEAR FAUSTINA 

the bitter reflection that whoever now speaks 
of a liking for her puts it into the past tense. 

' It — it was very good of you !' she stam- 
mers baldly. 

' How little I thought in those days — I 
mean during your dear father's lifetime — that 
it would be yotir hand which would deal me 
such a blow !' 

* I do not know — you must please explain 
— what you are alluding to.' 

Although vaguely prepared for something 
disagreeable, a look of startled dismay has 
come into the girl's face ; but her speech has 
a truthful dignity that her companion is too 
much agitated and preoccupied to perceive. 

' Oh, do not let us have any fencing !' she 
cries impatiently ; ' we both know what we 
mean — why should we pretend that we do 
not?' 

' I must emphatically answer that I do not 
know. ' 

The rejoinder, though made very gently 



DEAR FAUSTINA 275 

and civilly, seems to drive the hearer over 
the limits, already reached, of self-control. 

' Oh, Miss Vane, is it possible that you 
are going to add to the injury of having 
robbed me of my daughter the insult of 
denying it ?' 

The words are rude even to violence ; but 
they produce no sense of resentment in 
Althea's breast. It is with a compassion 
largely streaked with fellow-feeling that she 
looks at the twitched, flushed features of the 
usually good-natured, well-bred woman be- 
side her. 

' You are mistaken. I am truly sorry that 
you imagine anyone has robbed you of your 
daughter ; but I assure you it is not I.' 

' No doubt you do not call it robbing ' — in 
a perfectly unconvinced and still more exas- 
perated key — ' but that is a mere quibble ; 
you did rob me of her by introducing her to 
that horrible, horrible woman who ' 

' If you are alluding to Miss Bateson, I 



276 DEAR FAUSTINA 

must again repeat that 1 did not introduce 
them to each other ; I do not even know 
who did.' 

' But for you she would never have known 
her — never have wished to know her ! It 
was your example — youx fatal example ' 

Althea has turned very pale. There are 
limits even to her patience. 

' Will you mind setting me down ?' she 
says in a low voice. * I do not see that any 
purpose is served by my staying with you ; 
you do not believe a word I say.' 

The request brings Lady Lanington back 
in some measure to a recollection of the 
claims of good manners, forgotten as they 
always are when the elemental emotions have 
us in their clutch. 

' Oh, pray do not go ! I have so much 
more that I want to say to you. I had no 
intention of being rude ; the words escaped 
me. I really scarcely know what I am doing 
or saying !' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 277 

Her agitation is so painfully obvious, and 
the passion that dictates it has so clearly 
broken down all the dykes of good-breeding 
and habit, that Althea's short-lived wrath 
dies out. 

' I would not mind what kind of things 
you said to me,' she rejoins gently, ' if it did 
you any good ; but indeed I think you are 
making yourself unnecessarily miserable. As 
far as I am aware, Miss Delafield and the 
person whose influence you so much dread 
for her never now meet except in the most 
casual passing way.' 

' Never now meet f repeats the other, in 
a tone of indignant incredulity ; and the eyes 
which, at the softness of the girl's answer, 
had begun to twinkle behind her pince- 
nez with tears, now blaze again with angry 
distrust. 

Althea's heart sinks, but she replies 
steadily : 

' Never, upon my honour, to my know- 



278 DEAR FAUSTINA 

ledge, except in the way I have mentioned.' 
Then, as her companion continues to glare 
at her with ireful disbelief, she adds : 'Miss 
Delafield spent two nights at our flat upon 
Miss Bateson's invitation, but that was weeks 
ago ; and since then ' 

' Since then you are under the impression 
that they have never met ?' 

' I have never heard of their having done 
so.' 

The perfect steadiness with which Althea 
sustains the mother's angry scrutiny seems 
at length to convince the latter of the truth 
of her asseverations, for she says, in a 
changed key : 

' If that is your belief, I can only tell you 
that they have been keeping you in the 
dark.' 

* What do you mean ?' 

' What do I mean ? I mean that, so far 
from the intimacy between my daughter and 
that — that person being at an end, as you 



DEAR FAUSTINA i^g 



seem to Imagine, not a day — scarcely a day 
passes without their spending hours of it 
together. In Cressida it has become a 
madness, a frenzy ; in the other — well, eis 
she is your friend, I will not qualify it ; but 
if she were not, I should say that it is an 
iniquitous case of child-stealing !' 

While Lady Lanington, with growing 
excitement, has been running up the gamut 
of her woes, the knowledge has come coldly 
home to Althea that she had had an in- 
stinctive foreboding of what is now being 
told her all along. None the less does the 
certainty of her supersession, and of the 
smashing of her ideal, strike her dumb and 
unprotesting. 

' She used to be such a dear, affectionate 
child — never very strong-minded, but so 
loving and nice ' — this very falteringly — ' and 
now Oh, tell him to drive on any- 
where — round the Park — anywhere' — this 
to the footman, who has got down to ask 



28o DEAR FA USTINA 

for minuter directions as to Althea s obscure 
destination. 'And 7ww / She is to come 
of age next month. Unfortunately, she is 
quite independent of us pecuniarily, as she 
inherits from an uncle ; and last night she 
told us, her father and me — oh, I can scarcely 
bear to repeat it ' 

' What did she tell you ?' 

' I can hardly believe it even now ; it 
seems incredible !' 

' Yes ?' 

' If anyone had prophesied it to me six 
months ago, I should have laughed in their 
face.' 

' But you have not yet told me what it is.' 

' She told us — and oh, Miss Vane, to think 
that we should owe it (indirectly, at all 
events) to yozc ! — that she was weary of the 
idle, senseless, soul-numbing existence she was 
compelled by us to lead, and that since, while 
she remained with us, all her best energies 
were paralyzed, and she was prevented from 



DEAR FAUSTINA 281 

following out the high ends for which she 
was created (I am quoting the poor child 
verbally), it would be best for us to part.' 

' Part !' 

' Yes, part. And when we found words 
to remonstrate with her — at first, as you 
may imagine, we were paralyzed with grief 
and astonishment — she quoted you as a 
triumphant instance of a girl who had cut 
herself adrift from family ties for conscience* 
sake.' 

The ' triumphant instance ' does not much 
justify the adjective assigned to her, as she 
sits wide-eyed in wretched listening. Among 
the chaos of painful feelings in which Lady 
Lanington's words are making her welter, 
one has risen prominently to the surface. It 
dictates the speech which comes — half hurry, 
half lag — across her lips. 

' If she is going to part from you and 
Lord Lanington, whom does she mean to 
join ? She will not live alone, I suppose ?' 



282 DEAR FAUSTINA 



' She absolutely refused to answer that 
question when it was put to her ; but I can 
guess — I can guess ! I thought that you 
were her accomplice ; but I begin to believe 
— I quite believe — that you are not.' 

To a proposition so monstrous as that 
she has been wielding the axe to cut off 
her own head, Althea is incapable of a 
rejoinder. 

' But that is not the worst — not nearly the 
worst ! Oh, I hardly know how to tell you ! 
putting it into words seems to make it worse. 
Do you know — because, if you do, it will 
spare me the shame of telling you ; but I 
see by your face that you do not — do you 
know the kind of work that my poor insane 
child is going to devote herself to ? — she 
told us so to our faces !' 

' What work ?' 

* I would not have believed it on any 
less evidence — at /ler age, with Aer appear- 
ance ' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 283 

' Oh, what — WHAT ? Why do not you tell 
me ?' 

Althea has unconsciously grasped the arm 
of her companion that is nearest to her, and 
her strenuous pressure seems to squeeze out 
the difficult answer. 

' She is going to devote her life ' — with 
a voice sunk almost beyond the audible, and 
an apprehensive glance at the servants' backs 
— to rescue work / Do you understand ? At 
ker age, and with her appearance, she is 
going out into the Haymarket at night 

among those degraded creatures ' She 

breaks off, adding in another key : ' You are 
not going io faint P' 

' No, no ; I never fainted in my life. 
Go on.' 

' Go on P repeats the other in a tone of the 
bitterest indignation. ' Is not that enough ? 
What more would you have ?' 

Apparently it is quite enough for the 
auditor, whose blanched rigidity of look 



284 DEAR FAUSTINA 

calls forth a repetition of Lady Lanington's 
just-expressed fear. 

' I believe you are going to faint.' 

' No, no !' 

' Can't you help me ? , Can't you do some- 
thing to prevent such a crime, such an 
outrage ? You must have influence with 
this woman, since you gave up everything — 
quarrelled with your whole family — for her 
sake.' 

' I have never quarrelled with my whole 
family ' — faintly. 

' Oh, what does it matter what you call it ? 
I will call it by what name you like ; but you 
cannot deny that there is entire separation 
between you and them, and that she is the 
cause. In return, you must have some 
influence with her ; you cannot deny that you 
have influence with her, if only you would 
use it.' 

The mother's tone has changed from a 
key of bitterest, upbraiding to one of almost 



DEAR FAUSTINA 285 

abject entreaty, and to emphasize her request 
she wrings the girl's fingers with an even 
tighter grip than Althea, in the height of her 
excitement, had used a few moments ago 
towards herself. 

Althea almost laughs. Her influence ! 
But even now she cannot bear to admit to a 
third person the only half-realized depth of 
her own fall. 

' What would you have me do ?' 

' Do ! Why, go to her, beg her, entreat 
her, command her — you know what argu- 
ments have most hold on such a — such a — 
to let my child go ! She will be able to find 
plenty more victims to infect with her pes- 
tilent opinions ! Is not it enough for her to 
have been the ruin of you ?' 

Althea gives a horrified start. 

'Ruin! How dare you apply such a 
word to me ?' 

But the mother is off again on the track of 
her own woe, and does not seem to hear her. 



286 DEAR FAUSTINA 



' You cannot refuse me this reparation, 
such a poor one as It is, for the horrible 
wrong you have done me. After all, it is 
you that have done it — indirectly, at least. 
I should have had my child still with me if 
she had not learnt from you, from your 
example, to laugh at all constituted autho- 
rities, at religion, at decency, at whatever 
she had been taught to respect' 

Lady Lanington pauses, not, certainly, 
because she has exhausted her armoury of 
vituperation, but arrested by the deathly 
whiteness beside her, and adds : 

* Oh, I do not know what I am saying. 
I can keep no measure, can think of nothing 

but ' 

Under the storm of obloquy that has hailed 
upon her, Althea has put her hand to her 
head, as if some stone had hit her ; but she 
now straightens her limp back, and sits up. 

' I must again ask you to let me get out ; 
indeed, I must insist upon it. It is necessary 



DEAR FAUSTINA 287 

for me to go home at once, and Inquire Into 
the truth of the charges you have been bring- 
ing against my — my/rzend; to find out how 
much of mistake and misapprehension there 
is in them.' 

' And if you find that they are ^rue — true 
— true as Gospel ?' 

Again the sHght hand goes up to the brow 
that still smarts from its lapidation. 

' I cannot — cannot believe It.' 

' But if—\Y ' 

* I will not face such an if.' 



[ 288 ] 



CHAPTER XIV. 

To her coachman's disgust, Lady Lanington 
insists upon driving Althea to the portal of 
her flat, in the feverish hope that the inter- 
view between the latter and Miss Bateson 
may be thereby hastened. During the drive 
the younger woman scarcely speaks, save to 
put a decided veto upon the elder's proposal 
that she shall await the result outside, and to 
give, on leaving her, a mechanical assent to 
the distracted prayer that she will not keep 
her in suspense one second longer than is 
necessary. 

It is with a foggy sense of relief at being 
alone that Althea speeds up the dirty stairs, 



DEAR FAUSTINA 289 

and with a mixed and also foggy feeling of 
eagerness to face the worst and desire to 
shove the crucial moment a little farther off 
that she presses her door-bell. It is the first 
of these aspirations which is destined to be 
gratified, as it is Faustina herself who opens. 

One glance at Miss Bateson's face shows 
her house-fellow that it was not she who was 
expected, though to a stranger the ready 
ejaculation, ' Back already, darling ! Well, 
you are an ideal messenger !' would seem to 
hold even more rapture than astonishment. 
The bitterness of the intuition, which shows 
Miss Vane that she has been hoodwinked 
into being got out of the way to clear the 
stage for her supplanter, gives her the 
impetus necessary for an instant rush upon 
the fray. 

' I have not been to Rodney Street.' 
/ No .'^ Then, why are you back ?' 

Faustina is still fondly smiling, but in her 
tone there is the slight tang of displeasure 

19 



290 DEAR FAUSTINA 



of a General whose aide-de-camp has gratui- 
tously disobeyed him. 

' Because I met Lady Lanington.' 

* Because you met Lady Lanington ! That 
sounds rather a non sequitur! 

' She told me something which made it 
necessary that I should return home at once.' 

' You are dealing in riddles, dearest. If 
it is quite convenient to you, I should like to 
know what you are talking about.' 

The tone is playful, and might possibly 
have deceived Althea into a belief that her 
antagonist is ignorant of the coming thrust, 
had not she detected an instantaneous flash 
of consciousness in the eyes — eyes at once, 
and in a second, on their guard again. 

They are in the drawing-room by now ; 
and if other indications of a rising storm were 
wanting, the care with which Althea closes 
the door — a door generally left to bang, to 
jar, or to gape, according to its own wild will 
— would suffice as a warning. 



DEAR FAUSTINA 291 

'She told me facts — a fact — about her 
daughter which 1 refused to beHeve.' 

' Indeed ! That was not very polite of 
you.' 

' Faustina, were those facts — was that fact 
true ?' 

' As I have not any Rontgen rays to turn 
upon your mind, I must respectfully repeat 
that I am in the dark as to what you are 
alluding to.' 

' It is useless to try and put me off with a 
jest. Was it — is it true ?' 

' Was wAa^ — is what true ?' 

The waxing pressure of the one speaker, 
and the waning gaiety of the other, though 
the latter is obviously anxious to cling as 
long as possible to her light tone, reveal that 
the stress of the storm is nigh. 

' I was told by Lady Lanington that you 
have contracted an intimacy with her 
daughter.' 

' Well ?' 



292 DEAR FAUSTINA 

Faustina has sat down. In a quarrel the 
sitter has always an advantage over the 
stander, as evidencing a greater self-control ; 
and her ' Well ?' is uttered with a cold and 
slightly contemptuous patience, which makes 
the indictment fall flat even upon the in- 
dicter's ear. 

* That you have been meeting her 
secretly ' 

' There was no secrecy about it. ' 

* That you have been having daily — almost 
daily meetings with her all through the 
time during which you conveyed — implied 
to me that you have had no intercourse with 
her.' 

' I never conveyed or implied anything 
about the subject to you.' 

Once again there is a controlled contempt 
in the unhesitating answer, which, making 
the less-skilled combatant feel the apparent 
paltriness of her preliminary accusations, 
hurries her to the gist. 



DEAR FAUSTINA 293 

* That you have been setting her against 
her parents.' 

' Against such parents, it was the kindest 
thing I could do — the greatest service I 
could render her.' 

' That you have been inducing her to 
embrace — go in for a line of work which, 
though no doubt a great and necessary one 
when undertaken by the proper people, is 
grossly, indecently unsuitable for a girl of 
her age, character, and appearance !' 

In the first part of this sentence there is 
an attempt at judicial calm, but the latter half 
comes, contrary to its utterer's intention, in 
intemperate, scarlet hurry. 

' Are you alluding to her wish to devote 
herself to " rescue " work ?' 

'Yes.' 

Faustina heaves a sigh— the kind of sigh 
which any and all of the world's great teachers 
and creed-founders may have uttered, when 
the inability of their disciples to understand 



294 DEAR FAUSTINA 

their lessons was brought home to them — 
a sigh of impatient patience. 

*I suppose I had better answer your 
accusations in the order in which you have 
brought them. I /lave been seeing a good 
deal of Cressida Delafield.' 

She pauses, as if to give her companion 
time for a rejoinder, but none comes, so she 
goes on : 

' The secrecy with which you twit me 
consists in my not having thought it neces- 
sary to impart to you a fact whose true 
bearing my knowledge of your character and 
disposition taught me you would be unable 
to comprehend.' 

Althea brushes a hand quickly across her 
eyes, not because a tear is within miles of 
them, but because of the mist of delusion 
which the tone of calm and lenient explana- 
tion with which Miss Bateson is uttering her 
defence is calculated to draw over them. 

' As for the rescue work which I have 



DEAR FAUSTINA 295 



persuaded her to take up — 1 do not for a 
moment deny that it was my suggestion, 
which at the first hint she seized with joyful 
alacrity — my defence — if defence is needed, 
which I am far from admitting — is that, with 
me, the Cause always goes before the in- 
dividual. I look upon the persons whom 
I am able to influence primarily as its in- 
struments, and only very secondarily in their 
relation to myself or to themselves.' 

She shuts her lips, as if the subject were 
ended ; and with another sigh — of relief this 
time — leans carelessly back in her chair. 
For a moment Althea clutches her temples 
with both hands ; then she speaks : 

' I do not think you have been very success- 
ful in your choice of an instrument this time.' 

' No .'^ I cannot agree with you. She 
has been very useful to me already.' 

' Useful ! In what way ?' 

' By her social gifts she has succeeded in 
obtaining for me from the proper sources 



296 DEAR FAUSTINA 



that information about the Child Insurance 
Bill which, as you may remember, you were 
rather unsuccessful in getting.' 

The shaft tells. A quiver of pain passes 
over Althea's face. 

' Not that I blame you,' returns the other 
dispassionately. ' I quite believe that you 
did your best.' 

' I ought never to have attempted it.' 

' So the result proved ; but you must re- 
member how much and often you importuned 
me to put you to whatever branch of work I 
thought you best fitted for.' 

The very slight, but perceptible, flavour of 
contempt which seasons this speech conveys 
to Althea how little adapted for any labour, 
worthy of the name, her quondam friend 
regards her. It has the effect of a whiplash 
curling and tingling round her shoulders. 

' We are wandering from the point,' she 
says, in a high, strained voice. 'It is no 
question now of me and my insufficiency, but 



DEAR FAUSTINA 297 

of whether you are justified In kidnapping a 
foolish young girl from her home, and setting 
her to an employment of which it Is always 
doubtful whether the good can predominate 
over the evil, but which In her case — In her 
circumstances — would be a disgrace — an 
outrage !' 

The speaker stops, white and shaking ; and 
there Is a slight answering alteration in Miss 
Bateson's steady complexion and composed 
voice, when, after a moment's interval, to 
get herself well in hand, she replies : 

' I deny, absolutely and entirely, the right 
of you or of anyone else to challenge my 
actions. I am my own judge and censor ; 
to myself I stand or fall. But in deference 
to the intimacy of the relations that have 
subsisted between us, I am willing to give 
you as a favour that explanation which I 
refuse you as a due.' She pauses, and then 
adds dryly : ' Whether you will enjoy hearing 
it is another question.' 



298 DEAR FAUSTINA 

* Go on/ 

' I spared you the knowledge of my inter- 
course with Cressida Delafield, not because I 
had any motive for concealment, but out of 
tenderness to you— out of consideration for a 
weakness which from the first I divined to 
exist in your character, but which until lately 
I hoped might remain latent. You must 
know that I am alluding to that tendency 
towards jealousy which I have always thought 
somewhat unworthy of you.' 

Only a quickened drawing of the listener's 
already short-drawn breath as answer, so she 
goes on : 

' As to your indictment of '' kidnapping a 
foolish young girl," well ' — with a shrug — 
' folly is a relative term. In some lights 
many of us do not appear particularly wise ' 
— a stung start shows that the hearer has 
made the personal application intended — 
' and if to " kidnap " is to do for her what I 
did for you — that is, to give her the impetus 



DEAR FAUSTINA 299 

necessary for cutting herself adrift from an 
ignoble entourage — I not only admit, but I 
glory in, the accusation.' 

Still no rejoinder but that rapid breathing. 

' With regard to the rescue work, which 
appears to be the head and front of my 
offending, as I have already told you, with 
me the Cause always goes before the indi- 
vidual. But even were it not so, even if I 
were to allow personal feeling to outweigh 
abstract right, I should still have no scruple 
in directing upon such a course one who, 
with no prurient squeamishness, but with a 
noble alacrity, leapt at the first suggestion to 
her post in the grandest crusade ever under- 
taken by humanity.' 

The voice is steady, the look quasi-in- 
spired ; the words are — except for the side- 
hit at Althea's prurience— of much the same 
quality as those which had often stirred her 
like a trumpet-call. Bitterly she recognizes 
this, as they now fall in dead mockery on 



300 DEAR FAUSTINA 

her ear. It is a full minute before she 
regains utterance. 

' I am to understand, then, that you refuse 
to loose your prey ?' 

' You word it offensively. But, yes, I do 
refuse. ' 

' I know ' — with an unsuccessful effort to 
imitate her companion's sang-froid — 'that 
you deny the authorit}' of the Book that 
gives it, but you must allow the justice of the 
prohibition to us to do evil that good may 
come.' 

* We start from different premises. I deny 
that I am doing evil.' 

' N'o^ doing evil f — the poor rag of judicial 
calm flung aside, and with an outblazing of 
passionate expostulation which comes much 
more naturally : ' Is not it doing evil to lay 
waste a happy home, to bring desolation 
and ruin upon two good and innocent lives, 
even if the question of the girl herself is 
waived ?' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 301 



' It cannot be waived ; since it is the only 
one with which I have any concern.' 

' Does that mean that, in spite of what 
I have said, you are still determined to 
carry out your scandalous and disgraceful 
plan ?' 

' You observed to me some little while ago 
that I was fond of calling names. I think I 
might now retort the accusation.' 

' I do not wish to call names, because I 
have not — there are not any strong enough 
to characterize such an iniquity. But are 
you — you have not answered me — still de- 
termined to stick to it ?' 

* What reason have you given me — bluster 
is not reasoning — for abandoning it ? But 
even if your powers of ratiocination were 
stronger than they are, they would be power- 
less to move me from a course of action of 
whose righteousness and desirability I am 
absolutely convinced.' 

* Then, all I can say is, that you will have 



302 DEAR FAUSTINA 

to choose between Cressida Delafield and 
me.' 

The bolt which a month ago would have 
shattered the firmament, now falls apparently 
innocuous ; and so much still remains in 
Althea's mind of the habit of belief in the 
eternity of their intimacy, that she thinks 
Faustina cannot have grasped her propo- 
sition. She restates it : 

' If you adhere to your resolution, I shall 
be compelled to leave you.' 

' That is as you please.' 

' At once.' 

' Yes ?' 

' And for ever.' 

* We are certainly not very likely to resume 
our relations.' 

There is a cool dryness, an indifferent 
common-sense, in this last sentence which 
oversets the other's tottering balance. 

' And this is what it has come to,' she 
says, clutching her own head with both 



DEAR FAUSTINA 303 

hands, as if to assure herself that it is still 
on her shoulders. ' After all your protesta- 
tions, this is what it has come to !' 

'It is what you yourself have brought 
it to.' 

With one of her grasping hands Althea 
hits herself on the forehead. 

' Oh, how blind I have been! How right 
my people were ! How bitterly, bitterly 
disappointed, disillusioned, I am in you !' 

'And do you think,' rejoins Faustina, in 
whom during the last apostrophes signs of 
some emotion have become evident, and who, 
in token of waning self-control, now rises 
from her careless sitting posture to her feet 
— ' and do you think, pray, that / have not 
been disappointed, disillusioned, in you ?' 

To this agreeable inquiry Althea has no 
answer but dropped hands and staring eyes. 

' Do you think that as week by week, 
day by day, the paltriness of your character 
unfolded itself; your inability to embrace a 



304 DEAR FAUSTINA 

great design or to soar above petty details — 
do you think, I say, that my heart did not 
sink at the thought of the clog with which I 
had fettered myself?' 

Again receiving no audible reply, she sails 
on with spread canvas. 

' It is such as you, whose petulant feeble- 
ness, whose irritable self-love, whose silly 
conventions and minute brain power, have 
brought us where we are ; have palliated, 
justified, explained man's attitude to us.' 

She pauses to take in a fresh supply of 
breath, and Althea's voice makes itself just 
heard In a dreary whisper : 

' That is enough ! that Is enough ! I will 
go!' 

' I shall make no attempt to stop you ' — 
giving way with evident relief to a long-pent 
burst of frank brutality — ' but please to re- 
member that the breach comes from you ; it 
would never have come from me. Out of 
loyalty to my original Idea of you, and as 



DEAR FAUSTINA 305 

a penance for my folly In crediting you with 
excellences and aptitudes of which you are 
conspicuously destitute, I should have gone 
on putting up with you, enduring even your 
impertinent efforts to Interfere with my best- 
laid and most deeply considered schemes, 
and your contemptible willingness to be the 
cat's-paw^ of John Drake.' 

The storm of missiles which has been 
whistling round her head has had the effect 
of rendering Althea dizzy and deaf, but this 
last well-aimed flint stings her back into a 
cruelly full possession of her senses : 

' The — cat's-paw — of — John — Drake !' 

' Yes, the cat's-paw of John Drake. I do 
not know why you should have credited me 
with so much less keen sight than yourself ; 
why you should have supposed me Ignorant 
of those frequent meetings with him of late, 
which you have either happened to forget^ 
or not thought it worth while to 7nention.^ 

A sort of dimness comes before the 

20 



3o6 DEAR FAUSTINA 

hearer's vision. It is as if the blood of that 
flint-wound were dripping into her eyes and 
blinding her. 

' Do you think that I have not seen you, 
in spite of all I have told you of the horror 
of men's lives, in spite of your hypocritical 
air of repulsion — do you think that I have 
not seen you drifting Into the miserable old 
path, the wretched old attitude of inferiority 
and appeal } Has it ever struck you that, 
had I been cast in the same mould as you, I, 
too, might have played at jealousy ?' 

The other's answer is nothing but a 
groping movement towards the door, but 
Miss Bateson has not yet quite done with 
her. 

* If I had not become aware of that head- 
strong self- opinion in you which, coupled 
with your intellectual weakness, makes you 
so impossible to deal with, I would have 
given you a friendly hint that, since John 
Drake has a rather firmer hold upon his 



DEAR FAUSTINA 307 

convictions than you, your attentions to him 
are not likely to lead to the only close which 
would seem a satisfactory one to yourself and 
your highly respectable family.' 

Then she lets her go, and the other, feeling 
first for the drawing-room door, and then for 
the outer one, stumbles off down the public 
stairs. Before she reaches the bottom of 
these, practical common-sense has resumed 
its sway over Faustina's mind, and she calls 
down the w^ell of the staircase in much her 
ordinary voice : 

' Your boxes shall be sent at once to what- 
ever address you like to give.' 

***** 

In blind ignorance of the way she is taking, 
Althea walks along — walks on and on. She 
is half conscious that she has reached the 
Embankment by the pleasantness of the fresh 
air from the river. Then she walks on and 
on again, half blind, half deaf, every sense 
muffled like a knocker in a kid glove. She 



3o8 DEAR FAUSTINA 

has reached the end of the endless length of 
Grosvenor Road before the sun, beating 
hotly on her head — she has left parasol and 
gloves behind — and the urgent weariness of 
the knees that knock together beneath her, 
bid her find some place of shelter. 

The thought of the Aerated Bread Com- 
pany passes foggily across her mind — that 
beneficent institution which, during the last 
months, has often provided her with a frugal 
luncheon or inexpensive tea. She has to 
drag her tired limbs yet a little further before, 
in a street in Westminster, the welcome letters 
'A. B. C salute her eyes over a shop-door. 
She enters, and sits down at one of the little 
round marble-topped tables which chances to 
be vacant. 

At first she is conscious only of a sense of 
bodily relief and ease. It is not till instructed 
by the blank look of surprise on the face of 
the waitress who comes to know her require- 
ments — surprise at the silence with which 



DEAR FAUSTINA 309 

Althea stares at her — that the latter pulls her- 
self together and orders a cup of coffee and a 
wheat-cake. When they come, she feels 
disappointed that, for want of a preciser 
order, the cup is a small one. She drains 
it at a draught : it does her the doubtful kind- 
ness of clearing her brain. 

Leaning both elbows on the table, and 
taking her head in her two hands, she 
reviews her situation. An earthquake has 
swallowed up her home. At the memory 
of that so recent convulsion she shudders 
strongly, then glances round, afraid lest she 
should have been observed. 

An earthquake has swallowed up her home ! 
Where is she to find another one ? 

But from this question, though she is aware 
in a woolly way that it claims an immediate 
answer, mind and memory keep slipping 
back to the exquisite humiliation of the past 
interview. 

It is not the absoluteness and ignominy 



310 DEAR FAUSTINA 



of her failure to save Cressida, though at 
another time that would have oriven her keen 
pain, which is crushing her. It is not even 
the sight of the ignoble clay shards into which, 
under her eyes, her reputed god of gold and 
silver has flown, shivered. It is in those 
phrases into which Faustina had packed the 
poison of her final sting that lies the secret 
of the girl's prostration. 

She had carried her white maiden pennon 
so high ; and now it lies draggled and defiled 
in the filth of the public street. 

' The cat's-paw of John Drake !' ' Atten- 
tions to him not likely to lead to the only 
close !' etc. Horrible, horrible phrases ! And 
can it be that there is a grain of infinitely 
more horrible truth in them ? Has she paid 
him any attentions ? Can this odious colour- 
ing be put upon that intercourse which of 
late has formed the only solace of her life ? 

Her mind, having fastened upon this point, 
refuses to quit it. Inquiries as to whether 



DEAR FAUSTINA 311 

no further steps are possible for restoring to 
the Laningtons their strayed child, and also 
as to where Althea is to house herself for the 
coming night, drift across her brain, and 
remain indifferently unanswered. 

The one question that puts itself unceas- 
ingly as the only one really worthy of re- 
sponse is, F^as she paid attentions to John 
Drake ? The question is asked with shame- 
dropped head, and hands pentwise shading 
burning eyes. It is not till a step stayed 
beside her singles itself out from the coming 
and going feet in the restaurant that she 
snatches herself upright, and sees that the 
object of her anguished query is present to 
answer it if she will in person. 



I 3'2 ] 



CHAPTER XV. 

Althea starts to her feet. 

* What are you doing here ?' 

Drake looks at her in unfeigned surprise. 

' I caught a glimpse of you through the 
door, and thought I would come and ask 
whether you are any the worse for our ex- 
cursion.' 

' Our excursion ?' 

* Yes ; have you already forgotten Canning 
Town ?' 

She does not answer ; and, with growing 
alarm, he scans her more narrowly. 

' Has anything happened ? Are you ill ?' 
' No, I am not ill.' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 313 

There is something so indescribably frosty 
and distant in her voice that he replaces the 
chair which he had begun to move from the 
table, in order to sit down opposite her. 

' You had rather be alone. I will go.' 

His tone tells her what her own has been, 
and she makes a frightened effort to be natural 
and normal. 

'I — I was not expecting you. I came 
in here to — to think quietly over some- 
thing.' 

He cannot quite keep out of his eyes the 
earnest wish that burns behind them to know 
what that something Is ; but his hand is 
taken off the chair, and his whole attitude a 
going one. 

She glances up at him with what he feels 
to be an acutely painful, strange shyness, 
while in her heart, through the new veil of 
shame and shrinking, begins to rise the old 
longing for his sympathy. 

* Something has happened.' 



314 DEAR FAUSTINA 

'Something that you had rather not tell 
me ?' 

' No-o. You would — everybody would 
have to know it soon. I have left More 
Mansions.' 

' For good ?' 

' Yes. Faustina and I have quarrelled !' 

He forbids his face to express how little 
the arrival of this denouement surprises him, 
and tries to look only sympathetic. 

' Irremediably ?' 

' Oh, yes — yes !' 

She has sat down again at the table, and 
her distress — her need for comfort — is so 
obvious that he cannot resist the temptation 
to sit down, too. 

' I am so sorry. Quarrels are such mis- 
takes, are not they ? Could I be of any 
use? Could not you use me as a go- 
between ?' 

This suggestion, to his consternation, 
drowns her in crimson. 



DEAR FAUSTINA 315 

' Vozi ! Oh, no — no !' Then, feeling how 
Inevitably the violent unwisdom of her dis- 
claimer must have made him draw the in- 
ference that he himself was the object of 
contention, she rushes into a true, though 
misleading, admission. ' We quarrelled about 
Cressida Delafield.' 

' Indeed.' 

* I told Faustina that she must choose be- 
tween her and. me.' 

' And she chose Miss Delafield ?' 

'Yes.' 

He is silent, afraid to seem as if he would 
push into her confidence — a reticence the 
less meritorious since he knows that, having 
gone so far, she must go further, and unable 
to feign an astonishment that he is far from 
feeling. 

* I ought to tell you that my making this 
stipulation was not due to a petty jealousy, 
as you might think, but to Faustina's having 
persuaded the girl to leave her parents.' 



3i6 DEAR FAUSTINA 

' Faustina has not much opinion of parents ' 
— dryly — ' but why ?' 

' In order that she may devote her Hfe 
to ' 

' To wka^ P' 

Althea hesitates, divided between her 
native maiden shrinking from embarking on 
so scabrous a topic with a young man and 
the teaching of the last months, which has 
instructed her that all topics are to be handled 
indifferently between the sexes. It is not 
the latter, after all, which produces her low 
answer : 

' To rescue work.' 

' To wAal ?' 

' To rescue work ' — still lower. 

For a second he stares at her in stupefac- 
tion. Then : 

' We cannot be referring to the same 
person. I thought you were alluding to the 
young lady whom I met at Lady Lavinia 
Jerome's party.' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 317 

' And who complimented you upon your 
speech to the dockers — so I am.' 

'That ^^^7^/' 

' She is not such a child as you think ; she 
is twenty- one.' 

He still looks bewildered. 

' Rescue work ! Why, even Faustina — 
and do I understand that when you remon- 
strated with her she refused to listen to you Y 

' She insulted me grossly.' 

Again that smarting blush smites her like 
a blow, and her voice grows rigid again. 

* Insulted you grossly — how 7 

' I cannot tell you — you must never ask 
me !' — almost inaudibly. 

His face hardens, and he stands up. 

' Then, I will ask her !' 

' I will never speak to you again if you 
do !' She, too, has started to her feet, but, 
recalled to herself by the publicity of the 
place, and still more by the unbounded 
wonder in Drake's eyes, sits down again. 



3i8 DEAR FAUSTINA 

* I mean to say that it is no question of me ; 
that after — after what has passed, it would 
be useless to try and patch up a reconciliation 
between me and Faustina !' 

An overpowering wind of recollection 
seems to bow her head, and she bends before 
it. She looks such a monument of woe that 
even his curiosity fades before his earnest 
desire to succour her. 

' And is there nothing that you will let me 
do to help you ?' 

' I do not know what there is that you — 
that anyone can do.' 

Silenced for the moment by this finality 
of affliction, he can only send mute messages 
of cautious sympathy across her unbroken 
wheat-cake to her, and when he does speak, 
it is to make a homely suggestion. 

' Had not you better eat something?' 

' I could not ; it would stick in my throat.' 

' If you will forgive my asking you, have 
you made any plan — thought out at all what 



DEAR FAUSTINA 319 

it will be best for you to do for — ^just the 
present — for now ?' 
*No; 

* But you will have to make up your mind 
— to take some step, will not you ?' 

* Oh, I suppose so.' 

There is such cold dismissal of the topic 
in her tone that he dares not pursue it. 

Presently she begins to stir restlessly ; to 
look about her for the gloves whose absence 
she has forgotten ; to show feverish signs of 
departure. 

' Are you going ?' 

' I am wasting time, and there is none to 
lose. I must take some other step. I can- 
not leave that girl to her fate.' 

There is a painful look of wool-gathering 
in her white face, which shows her still half 
stunned from her recent blow. Destitute as 
he is of any right to prevent her, he cannot 
allow her to set forth on an enterprise for 
which she is so plainly unfit. He interposes 



320 DEAR FAUSTINA 

himself between her and the door, towards 

which she has turned. 

' Will not you eat something first ?' 

' I tell you it would stick in my throat if 

I did; 

' Will not you at least sit down again for 

a moment, and let us talk it over quietly ?' 

* What good would talking it over quietly 
do?' 

' We miofht strike out somethino^. You 
might see your way to let me help you.' 

' You ? Oh no !' 

At any other time her emphasis of negation 
would have hurt him ; now, in the concentra- 
tion of his eagerness to stop her, he passes 
it by. 

* You might at least let me use whatever 
influence I have with Faustina.' 

Her only answer is a — to him — incompre- 
hensible shudder. 

* Perhaps you doubt my possessing any ; 
but I really have some.' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 321 

She has collapsed into her chair again — 
not because convinced by his arguments, but 
unable to trust her knocking knees. With 
an effort she collects her swimming thoughts 
to answer him. 

' You did not seem to have much when 
you tried to persuade her about the chromate 
of potash.' 

' That is true.' 

Her shaking fingers begin to fidget with 
the spoon of her coffee-cup. 

' I must think of something else. I must 
do something — do something — at once.' 

' I cannot see that you have any respon- 
sibility in the matter.' 

' Oh yes, I have — there are reasons. And, 
besides, her mother — I met her this morning ; 
did I tell you that it was from her I heard 
the news ? — lays all the blame upon me !' 

' Upon you ?' 

' Yes. She says that if it had not been 

for my fatal example ' 

21 



32 2 DEAR FAUSTINA 

Her throat seems to close. 

' I would treat such gross injustice with 
the contempt it deserves '—indignantly. 

' I am not so sure that it is unjust.' 

Seeing her thus resolute to heap ashes 
on her own head, he resumes the path of 
practical suggestion. 

' Would it be any use for you to appeal 
to Miss Delafield herself.?' 

' Not the slightest.' 

' Or to your own people — your own 
family? I think they are acquainted with 
her?' 

' No, no ! They are the last people who 
must hear a word of it !' 

Such a frenzy of opposition shrills in her 
answer to this last proposal that he looks 
round nervously ; but the denizens of this 
A. B. C, like those of all others, are stoking 
themselves stolidly, unmindful of their neigh- 
bours' concerns. 

' And you think the matter urgent — need- 



DEAR FAUSTINA 323 

ing instant action ? You think that Faustina 
will ' 

She snatches the sentence away from him, 
as if unable to bear any ending he can put 
to it. 

' Yes, I know it ! She never lets the grass 
grow under her feet' 

A hopeless pause. Trivial but tenderly 
compassionate speculations cross Drake's 
mind as to what she has done with her 
gloves, coupled with the sudden perception 
that she looks ten years older than she did 
when he parted from her last night. 

' I should be the last person to press my 
suggestion, if you had a better one to offer,' 
he says at last, with deprecating respect ; 
' but if you have not, I think I should advise 
you to let me try my luck with Faustina.' 

She looks at him desperately. Her mind 
seems a boiling cauldron, full of whirling 
thoughts, which she tries in vain to arrest 
and sort. After awhile a kind of order 



324 DEAR FAUSTINA 

comes into the chaos, and from it issues a 
voice which tells her that in this proposal — 
the most repugnant that could possibly have 
been made to her — lies her only chance of 
averting the threatened evil. Dares she 
reject it ? Through a species of woolly fog, 
her companion's voice, still urging, reaches 
her. 

* I really have some influence with her, 
though I do not wonder at your doubting it ; 
but if I put pressure on, I really have a good 
deal.' 

Silence. Her thoughts are clearing, and 
out of them rises in odious distinctness a 
horrid picture of Drake confronting Faustina 
— of her own name bandied about between 
them, sullied by the calumnies with which 
Miss Bateson had so freely bespattered her- 
self, and of which she will certainly not be 
more sparing to her advocate — that advocate 
whose very partisanship will give a plausible 
colour to her accusations. And yet what 



DEAR FAUSTINA 325 

alternative from this agony of degradation 
lies open to her ? In the extremity of her 
misery she hides her face. 

' I do not know what to do ; I am at my 
wits' end/ 

He stands beside her patiently waiting, 
marvelling at, and yet trying not even in 
his own mind to probe, the reasons of her 
anguished shrinking from his proposal. When 
he sees her a little calmer he gently repeats it : 

' I think you had better trust me to do 
what I can for you.' 

For a second or two she yields to the 
infinite sense of relief of having someone to 
lean on ; then Faustina's venomed phrases, 
flashing back, poison the infant fountain of 
her comfort at its source. 

' I could not bear it — I could not bear it !' 

At the obstinacy of her apparent unreason 
his patience gives way a little. 

' I am afraid I have nothing else to 
suggest.' 



326 DEAR FAUSTINA 



She lifts her forlorn head quickly. Is he 
going ? Dreadful as is his presence beside 
her, she suddenly realizes^ how much more 
dreadful his leaving her will be. 

' If — I — consent to what you propose, will 
you — will you — promise not to — not to listen 
— to — stop your ears to — any — any — any in- 
sulting accusations that she may bring against 
me?' 

It would be invidious to say which was 
the more highly coloured, the young woman 
at making this suggestion, or the young man 
at hearing it. 

' Is not it an insult to me to exact such a 
promise ?' 

' Oh that it should have come to this !' 
she says, the memory of her former in- 
fatuation wringing a little low cry out of her 
at its so ignominious ending. 

' I would not think about that, if I were 
you, now.' 

She heaves a great sigh, and then draws 



DEAR FAUSTINA 327 

her scattered wits together, as if trying to 
take his advice. 

' If you — really mean — to carry out — your 
— your suggestion, I suppose it had better be 
— at once. She is not a person who ever 
loses time ; and she may be meaning to 
put her — her scheme into execution to-ni — 
at once.' 

Deep repugnance and fevered hurry strive 
together in her speech, and the pitiful conflict 
stirs him to an even tenderer compassion 
than he has yet felt. 

' You may depend upon me. Should I 
find her at home this afternoon T 

' I think so ; she was evidently expecting 
Cressida.' The corners of her mouth go 
down, pulled at by a very bitter recollection, 
and he looks at her with silent commiseration. 
' She has an engagement for this evening. 
As it is a long way off, she will set off early ; 
so you had better be on the safe side, and go 
now.' 



328 DEAR FAUSTINA 

Drake's heart gives a throb of pleasure at 
her taking his eagerness to serve her so much 
as a matter of course as to need neither 
apology nor thanks ; but there is no sign of 
it in his answer. 

' I will go as soon as I know what is to 
become of you.' 

' Of me ?' 

' Yes, of you.' 

' Oh, I do not know !' 

' You must decide upon something ; the 
day is getting on.' 

' Yes ; I suppose so.' 

' Are your people in town ?' 

* As far as I know.' 

' Your sister, Mrs. Boteler ?' 

* I dare say.' 

' Will not it be best for you to be with 
your own family ?' 

* My family disapproves of me a good 
deal. It seems to me that most people dis- 
approve of me.' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 329 

* Do they disapprove of you enough to 
turn you away from their door ?' 

Her answer is a tarrying one. Do they ? 
He had put the question as propounding an 
absurdity ; but to her it seems quite within 
the range of possibility that they should. 
For weeks she has kept away from Clare, 
deterred by that long- unfulfilled promise ; 
and now that what her family will look upon 
as the result of her bad faith has broken in 
thunder upon them, how can she venture 
to present herself before them ? A dreadful 
vision of Edward confronting her in loud 
or, still more terrible, speechless wrath under 
Clare's palms rises before her swimming 
eyes. 

' I do not know ; they may. Oh, how I 
wish ' — catching at a straw — ' that I could 
go to Canning Town !' 

' I am afraid that is not possible to-day.' 

' Could not that nice couple take me in ?' 

' I am afraid not.' 



330 DEAR FAUSTINA 

His words are chilling, but the throb at his 
heart is louder than before. She heaves 
another prodigious sigh, and once again 
looks about mechanically for her absent 
gloves. 

' Then, I suppose there is no help for it.' 

' Shall I call you a hansom ?' 

' If you like.' 

He is so afraid of her vacillating away 
once again from the only sensible plan which 
it is in her power to adopt, that he gives her 
no time to change her mind, and in another 
minute a cab stands at the door. She submits 
passively while he puts her in, forgetting even 
that she has not paid for her coffee ; and at 
first it seems as if she were to be packed off 
like a parcel, and without any more power of 
utterance than if she had been wrapped in 
brown paper and tied with string. But the 
noise of the flaps, which he stands upon the 
step to shut down upon her, seems to give 
her back her speech. 



DEAR FAUSTINA 331 



' You will let me hear, whatever there is to 
hear, at once' 

* At once' 

' And you will not believe — you will try 
not to believe ' 

The wheels drown what he is not to 
believe, but he knows it pretty well. 

Althea drives along through a mist, al- 
though the sun is showing to foreigners all 
and sundry what he can do, when he is put 
to it, in the way of shining upon that town 
whose chimneys are believed to have bested 
him. It is the fullest time of the afternoon, 
and a block often brings her to a standstill. 
She sees that people are looking harder at 
her than usual, and, though accustomed to 
being stared at for her prettiness, feels that 
there is something different to-day. 

Clare's butler — he is new since her last 
visit — announces to her with apparent 
pleasure that his mistress is ' Not at home,' 



332 DEAR FAUSTINA 

and, when she feebly says that she will come 
in and wait, looks respectfully doubtful. 

' Mrs. Boteler is not very well, m, and 
her borders were that no one, with the ex- 
ception of one or two hintimate friends, was 
to be admitted.' 

' I am one of the exceptions. I am Mrs. 
Boteler's sister.' 

At that he ceases his opposition, and she 
follows him, quakingly asking herself whether 
she has indeed spoken truth. 

Clare is lying on the sofa, and Althea has 
time for one moment of poignant anxiety as 
to what emotion she shall see succeeding the 
first inevitable one of surprise before Mrs. 
Boteler jumps up, with no appearance of ill- 
health, and runs to meet her. 

' A^ last r she cries. ' Now, are not you 
ashamed of yourself ?' 

The reproach is so gay and gentle, and 
applies so obviously to no worse crime than 
her having absented herself, that Althea, 



DEAR FAUSTINA ^2,3 

breaking down under the reaction, bursts 
into tears. 

' My dear, how ill you look ! What is it ?' 

The other's sobs make her scarcely in- 
telligible. 

'I have come — to ask — whether — you will 
take me — take me. — in.' 

The arms instantly clasped round her thin 
shoulders would be answer enough, even 
without the galloping response : 

' There is so much need to ask that, is 
not there ?' 

She draws the humbled girl down on the 
sofa beside her, and, not teasing her with 
questions, waits for her to explain herself. 
But Althea's first words have no relation to 
herself. 

' You were lying down. Are not you 
well ?' 

Clare blushes slightly. 

' I never felt better in my life ; but, you 
know, William is so fussy about me.' 



334 



DEAR FAUSTINA 



Althea stares stupidly at her. The squalid 
tornado that has rent her life seems to have 
blown away half her wits. 

'And — and the others? How is — how is 
Fanny ?' 

' Fanny is a tremendous success.' 

The figures of Pharaoh's butler and baker, 
with their unexplained variety of fate, rise 
quaintly before Althea's dimmed mental eye, 
the one with his head lifted up, and the other 
hanged. Fanny a tremendous success, and 
sAe ! 

' I must say that, if I am tired, William is 
excellent about taking her to balls.' 

A trivial vision of William with his arm 
chronically twined round Fanny's waist dis- 
places the butler and baker before the eyes 
of William's sister-in-law, lessening the virtue 
of his sacrifice, but does not detain her a 
moment from the real subject of her pre- 
occupation. 

' And— and Ned ?' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 335 

Mrs. Boteler's soft face stiffens a little. 

' He has not been up for some weeks ; he 
is reading hard for Greats. Poor fellow ! he 
realizes that work is the best thing for him.' 

Tone and words are dry, and ^an^ soit peu 
reproachful, but to Althea they bring an 
untold relief. He knows nothing ; he has 
heard nothing. That terrible vision of a 
brother vengefully confronting her is only a 
figment of her own brain. For the moment, 
at least, she may let herself go to the un- 
speakable ease and solace of this reached 
haven. Her tired head falls back on the 
sofa-cushion, and the water stands again in 
her eyes. Her whole look is so bruised and 
pitiful that the other's conscience smites her 
for her transient severity. 

' I see that something very bad has hap- 
pened. Do not you think you could tell me 
what it is ?' 

At the delicate kindness of this inquiry the 
shower falls. 



336 DEAR FAUSTINA 

' You have left her ?' 

A speechless nod. 

' For good ?' 

' Yes.' 

' You have quarrelled with her ?' 

'Yes.' 

* And you never mean to go back ?' 

' God forbid !' 

A crescendo of cautious but eager cheer- 
fulness has marked Mrs. Boteler's questions, 
and at the energy of this last disclaimer she 
flings both arms again round her sister's 
neck. 

' Oh, I am glad ! Do not be angry with 
me, but I am glad ! I knew that you must 
find out in time what a fraud she is ; but I 
feared it might be a long while first.' 

' Do not call her names !' cries Althea, 
with a shiver of stung loyalty to her broken 
ideal. ' I loved her dearly ; I believed in 
her — oh, Aow I believed in her ! — but I have 
been dreadfully — dreadfully disillusioned.' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 337 

' Since when ?' 

Althea heaves a sigh of deep humiliation. 

' I can see now that it has been coming 
for a long time, that she has been growing 
sick of me ; but it culminated this morning 
when I remonstrated with her about some- 
thing she was going to do, which I thought 
absolutely criminal.' 

' Criminal f 

Clare's eyes sparkle at the thought of Miss 
Bateson having placed herself within the 
clutch of the law. 

' Morally criminal, I mean.' 

' And her answer was, to turn you out of 
doors ?' 

' I turned myself out. I could not stay to 
hear any more such — such outrages as she 
was heaping upon me.' 

Clare reddens in sympathy with the scarlet 
that has bathed her sister. 

' I always felt that there were great possi- 
bilities of Billingsgate latent in her.' 

22 



338 DEAR FAUSTINA 

' I left all my things behind me ; I did not 
even ' — with a half-scared look at her hands 
— ' remember to take my gloves.' 

' I will send for them at once ' — rising and 
ringing the bell. * If I do not ' — with a burst 
of disgust and anger — ' she will probably 
pawn them.' 

And again i\lthea shivers. 



[ 339 ] 



CHAPTER XVI. 

The servant sent to recover Miss Vane's 
wardrobe from the apprehended pawnshop 
returns in time for her to appear in her own 
clothes at her sister's dinner- table. It is not 
likely that at the height of the season she 
will find her relations dining alone ; but she 
has been too self-absorbed to realize this, 
and, on finding that she will have to face 
strangers, begs ofT appearing. But Clare 
gently discourages the proposal. 

' They are only men ; and so William will 
take you in. I will tell him not to talk much 
to you.' 

' I am afraid I shall be rather a kill-joy. 



340 



DEAR FAUSTINA 



' Oh no, you will not. There are only 
three or four old Etonians come up for the 
match.' 

* What match ?' 

' TV/ia^ match /' — laughingly mimicking 
her. ' You had better not let William 
and Fanny hear you. Do you mean to say 
you do not know that it is the first day of 
the Eton and Harrow ?' 

Nothing can be kinder than William's 
greeting when they meet in the drawing- 
room before the arrival of the guests. 

' Very glad to see you !' he says, shaking 
her hand almost as heartily as if it had been 
Fanny's. 

There is an intention to kiss her in his 
eye, but something in her manner makes 
him abandon it, and substitute the not par- 
ticularly felicitous remark : 

' I thought we should end by rescuing you 
from the shrieking sisterhood.' 

His wife, standing near, puts in a gently 



DEAR FAUSTINA 341 



hasty ' We will not talk about that,' which 
diverts her husband's attention to herself, 
making him ply her with what seem to 
Althea very teasing questions, as to whether 
she has obeyed his injunctions in lying long 
enough on the sofa ; whether she is sure she 
has not seen too many people, etc. 

Fanny next claims his attention, her toilet 
demanding a good deal of facetious criticism 
and some fingering, so that, on the whole, 
the returned truant tells herself that, con- 
sidering what William is, she has come off 
pretty cheaply. 

And there is real kindness in his ' Now 
that we have got you, we shall not let you 
go in a hurry,' as he presses the fingers that 
rest on his arm against his side during their 
downward march to the dining-room. 

He relapses into funniness two or three 
times during dinner — as when, with a glance 
at her collar-bones, he expresses a playful 
wonder that two such radicals as she and her 



342 DEAR FAUSTINA 

friend should have dined so often with Duke 
Humphrey. But for the most part, in obedi- 
ence, probably, to his wife's orders, he leaves 
her in peace. 

The conversation rolls almost wholly upon 
the match, and Mr. Boteler throws his bad 
jokes upon it about the table — ^jokes which 
Fanny receives with low bursts of ecstatic 
laughter, such as, indeed, she bestows upon 
the sallies of all the other men. Fanny has 
no repartee, and does much better without a 
gift which in general brings to its possessor, 
if a woman, neither love nor money. 

The absolute aloofness of the interests 
about her from that one which has been 
tyrannizing her whole being makes Althea 
feel inexpressibly stupid. It is with difficulty 
that she can keep enough wits about her to 
produce the ' Yes ' or ' No ' occasionally 
asked of her in their right places ; to abstract 
herself for even a moment from the devouring 
fever of her apprehensions as to how her 



DEAR FAUSTINA 343 

messenger is prospering on that mission, 
upon which seems to her to hang whatever 
of peace may be in store for her future life. 
How soon is it possible for her to hear the 
result of Drake's quest ? 

As time wears on, her preoccupation 
becomes more and more painful. The 
ladies have returned to the drawing-room, 
and Fanny, 'with a thoughtful husbanding 
of the charms which are to be exhibited at 
two balls, curls herself up on a sofa and goes 
to sleep, after prettily saying how too pleasant 
for words it is to have Althea's company 
again. The other sister, with a nicer obser- 
vation and a sincerer solicitude, urges the 
jaded girl to go to bed. 

' No, no ; I cannot. I should not sleep ! 
I will stay, at all events, until Fanny goes to 
dress.' 

There is such a strange excitement in her 
manner that Clare looks at her alarmed and 
puzzled. 



344 DEAR FAUSTINA 

* You are not — not expecting — anyone ?' 

^No.' 

Presently the men come up, and Fanny 
wakes just in time to shake out her ruffled 
plumes and stroll on to the balcony with one 
or two of them, pleasing their ears with her 
little observations on the stars, which make 
them feel quite clever. 

William devotes himself to his other sister- 
in-law, and plays with somewhat clumsy 
variations upon the kindly theme of his 
determination not to let her go again now 
he has got her, and his congratulations and 
rejoicings over her recovered reason. She 
scarcely hears him, the heightening distress 
of her mind making her deaf to any other 
theme. 

It is growing evident that she will not 
learn her fate to-night ; that she will have 
to bridge the enormous chasm that parts her 
from another day with sleepless hours of un- 
relieved suspense. The telegraph- offices must 



DEAR FAUSTINA 345 

long have been closed, for Is not midnight 
nearing ? 

Fanny has pecked her good-night upon 
her sisters' cheeks, and danced away to the 
brougham ; and William, lingering to impress 
fondly fussy orders upon his wife not to stay 
up chattering, has followed. 

' We do not feel at all inclined to disobey 
him, do we ?' says Clare, with a pitying 
glance at her sister's white face. 

But the other utterly repudiates the hope 
of slumber. 

' 1 should like to sit up all night.' 

' Do not you sleep ?' 

* If I do not, that is no reason for keeping 
you out of bed.' 

She follows Clare upstairs with dragging 
limbs. 

' I will not come in, though it is a sore 
temptation,' says Mrs. Boteler, pausing at 
the threshold of her sister's door ; ' but I 
should never hear the last of it if I did ' — 



346 DEAR FAUSTINA 

smiling. * Sleep well, and do not come down 
to breakfast' 

She turns reluctantly, as if loath to leave 
anything so uncomforted ; and the next 
moment Althea hears her voice speaking to 
the butler, who has apparently followed her 
upstairs— ' For me ?' and his answer : ' No ; 
for Miss Vane.' 

In an instant Althea has sprung into the 
passage, and snatched .the telegram out of 
the man's hand, not heeding his explanation : 
' It was left by mistake at No. 24, and has 
only just been sent in.' 

Though in such haste to open it, a moment 
or two passes before she can master its 
import, though the message is of the briefest. 

*'«^ -Jc %'s 7f Vf 

It is through no dilatoriness on the part 
of Drake that Miss Vane has been kept so 
long upon her gridiron. No sooner has he 
put her into one hansom than he puts him- 
self into a second, and gives the familiar 



DEAR FAUSTINA 347 

address, * 4, More Mansions.' Not only with 
the object of arresting Faustina at the earliest 
period, but because he knows that the more 
he looks at his errand the less he will like 
it, does he thus bustle its fulfilment. 

Drake has no particular objection — ade- 
quate cause given — to a row with one of 
his own sex ; but, like all other able-bodied, 
healthy-minded men, anything in the nature 
of a quarrel with a woman is extremely dis- 
tasteful to him. 

Faustina herself opens the door, as she 
had done earlier in the day to Althea. 

' I am '' not at home," ' she says cavalierly, 
' as I must go out in a quarter of an hour ; 
but you may come in for a minute or two.' 

She leads the way to the drawing-room, 
which seems to his fancy still to show 
marks of the morning's battle, as if that 
battle had been one where literal instead of 
metaphorical missiles had hurtled. 

Miss Bateson has no more opinion of 



348 DEAR FAUSTINA 

order and neatness in her surroundings than 
she has of filial piety, reverence, etc., and 
to the young man's eyes the absence of 
Altheas refining and straightening influence 
is already perceptible. 

* You are apt to come at inconvenient 
moments; but I am not sorry to see you,' 
Faustina says, and so holds out her hand. 

His makes no answering motion. 

' What does this mean ?' 

He had been doubtful whether the bluff 
offhandness of her manner had not con- 
cealed some suspicion of his purpose ; but 
her air of apparently unaffected surprise 
staggers him. 

' It means that shaking hands implies a 
friendly relation, and that it is with no 
friendly feeling that I come to you to-day.' 

The surprise, whether real or only well 
counterfeited, passes out of her eyes, and she 
sits down. 

' If we are going to say unpleasant things 



DEAR FAUSTINA 349 

to each other, we may as well do it comfort- 
ably.' 

' Thank you, I had rather stand.' 

* As you please.' 

There is a slight pause, both combatants 
arming. It is, perhaps, a false move on the 
part of Faustina that it is she who gives the 
signal to fire. It is, at all events, a relief to 
her antagonist. 

' I gather that Althea has been visiting 
you with her finger in her eye.' 

She laughs slightingly. 

' Then, you gather what is absolutely false.' 

Faustina shrugs her shoulders. 

' She has been communicating with you — 
the method Is unimportant. You cannot 
deny that, I suppose ?' 

' I see no reason for introducing her name 
into the discussion.' 

' If they have no reference to her, I am 
quite at a loss to guess the meaning of these 
heroics.' Her voice is contemptuous, and she 



35° 



DEAR FAUSTINA 



half strangles a yawn. ' And time is short,' 
she adds, with a meaning glance clockwards. 

* It will be long enough for me,' he says, 
stung by her tone ; * I shall not detain you 
long. I have only one brief request — one 
demand to make of you.' 

' And that is ?' 

' That you will abandon the at once 
nefarious and ridiculous scheme with regard 
to Miss Delafield that I hear you have 
framed.' 

The answer takes a moment before it can 
come as smilingly as its utterer wishes. 

' You have said your lesson well, and you 
have almost as much command of language 
as your — your employer ; but, as you know, 
I have never objected to plain speaking, and 
I should be glad if you would tell me what 
inducement you hold out to me to comply 
with a request which may seem to me as 
ridiculous and nefarious as my project does 
to you.' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 351 



* What inducement !' he repeats slowly, as 
if the shape of the question made it difficult 
to him for the moment to answer it. 

' Or perhaps I should rather say, what 
deterrent to frighten me from it/ 

He pauses for a second. 

' The absolute and glaring unfitness of the 
tool for the task — has that no weight with 
you ?' 

' I deny your premise. If I had not 
thought the tool fitted for the task, I should 
not have picked it out.' 

' The misery entailed upon the girl's 
family ?' 

She shakes her head. 

' You know what my opinions are as to 
the so-called rights of parents to mutilate 
and cramp their children's lives. You may 
forget the fact ; but you once shared them.' 

He passes by the personal application 
with quiet contempt. 

* The horrors to which you expose her ?' 



352 DEAR FAUSTINA 

She smiles. 

' You may keep your breath to cool your 
porridge, and your rhetoric for a paragraph 
in a society paper. Have you yet to learn 
that with me the implement is always a most 
secondary consideration, and is esteemed 
solely as it may lend its polish or its blade 
to the service of the Cause ?' 

He puts out his hand impatiently. 

' Connu ! I have heard it before. Save 
it for someone to whom it is fresher.' 

Her good-humour, or at least her self- 
command, seems proof even against this 
shaft. 

' Have you come to the bottom of your 
bag of bombs ?' she asks jeeringly. 

' Not quite ; I have one or two left.' 

Something in the look of his face or the 
determination of his manner makes her 
vaguely restless. 

She takes up a paper-knife and balances it 
on her fingers. It was an early love-token 



DEAR FAUSTINA 



353 



from Althea, and has Auf Ewig foolishly 
slanting across its blade in gilt letters ; but 
neither of them notices this. He looks down 
at her calmly , before again speaking ; and 
she, suddenly feeling that the inequality of 
their levels is giving him an advantage over 
her, rises and, standing firmly on her well- 
planted feet, draws up her tall stature. 

* You are very self-confident,' he says, with 
an inflection that sounds almost one of pity — 
* very sure of yourself It is a valuable 
quality, but it may land you in a morass.' 

' Would you mind keeping to the text, or 
shall we have the rest of the sermon another 
day?' 

Her voice is still a jeering one, but there 
has come into it an indefinable accent of alarm. 

' Have you reflected what a hornets' nest 
you will bring about your ears by provoking 
the enmity of a family as powerful by con- 
nection and social standing as Miss Dela- 
field's ?' 

23 



354 



DEAR FAUSTINA 



' What harm can they do to me ? The 
claws have been pared and the fangs drawn 
of such as they this many a year.' 

Again he halts for a moment. She is so 
close to him that he can feel her breath on 
his cheek, and knows that it is coming hot 
and anxiously. 

* They could make the place too hot to 
hold you.' He waits a moment for this 
statement to have time to sink well in, and 
then adds : ' I think you would find other 
people beside me withdrawing from your 
acquaintance.' 

' You are threatening me with the loss of 
your acquaintance ?' 

' I am threatening nothing. I am simply 
telling you what will be the result of your 
action.' 

' It comes to the same thing. You are 
implying that you will withdraw your ac- 
quaintance — what I used once humorously 
to call your friendship — from me if I persist.' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 355 

* What you used humorously to call my 
friendship for you — yes.' 

Her next question comes heralded and, as 
it were, delayed by a dark blush : 

' That means, in plain English, that you 
will withdraw the help — the pecuniary help 
— which you have given me all these years ; 
given by you and accepted by me without 
humiliation, because we were both in the 
same boat.' 

* We were never in the same boat.' 

' We were in the same boat, inasmuch as 
we had both been turned out of doors for our 
fidelity to our opinions.' 

* Was it for your opinions that you were 
turned out of doors ?' 

He looks at her piercingly, well in the 
eyes, and hers, after trying to brazen it out 
for an instant, drop. 

* It was for carrying, or trying to carry, 
them to their logical conclusion,' she answers; 
but though there is defiance, there is also 



356 DEAR FAUSTINA 

fear in her tone. The young man shrugs 
his shoulders contemptuously. 

' I have no wish to stir up that old mud. 
I helped you because I could not see an old 
playmate starve ; because I believed that 
injustice had« been meted out to you — that 
your convictions were convictions, although 
they had led you into extravagant and 
immoral action ' 

She breaks in, unable — though conscious 
of the ticklish nature of her situation — to 
deny herself the poignant pleasure of a 
gibe : 

'Extravagant and immoral! Give me 
time to enjoy this new strain. Since when 
has this admiring loyalty to the Marriage 
Laws blossomed out in you ?' 

He does what it is always wise, and almost 
as always difficult, to do in the case of angry 
speech, passes it by, continuing his own 
theme as if she had not spoken. 

' All these years I have been trying to 



DEAR FAUSTINA 357 



keep my belief in you — a belief that, under 
all the puff and push and vulgar striving 
for notoriety, there still existed something 
of the real thing — some grain of selfless 
love, of righteous anger, of noble faith ; 
but during the last months that belief has 
been daily growing weaker, and to-day it 
has died.' 

His voice has throughout been neither 
loud nor vituperative, despite the stinging 
severity of his words, and through the last 
clause of his speech there runs an intonation 
of sadness. Her answer begins in bluster : 

' What is it to me whether you or such as 
you weary me with your stupid belief, or 
insult me with your stupider disbelief ?' 
Then, as he continues to hold her with the 
quiet determination of his eye, she changes 
her tone : 'It would be more to the purpose 
if, instead of slanging me, you were to treat 
me to a practical statement of what it is that 
you wish me to do.' 



358 DEAR FAUSTINA 

* I wish you to sit down at once and write 
a note to Miss Delafield.' 

' Dictated by you ?' 

* If you prefer it' 

He has baffled her by taking her derisive 
question as if seriously asked, and for a 
moment she hesitates. 

' And supposing that I refuse ?' 

' I think you will repent it.' 

* Supposing that I fling your petty help in 
your face, and defy you ?' 

He wisely leaves this query to answer 
itself, which after a while it does, by its 
author walking slowly to the writing-table 
and sitting down at it. Her self-respect is 
almost as much^restored by the utterance of 
her threat of renunciation as if she had 
carried it out, and it is with what she feels 
to be real dignity that, when seated, she turns 
to him. 

* You have interfered in a matter with 
which you have no smallest concern ; you 



DEAR FAUSTINA 359 

have stooped to be the tool of a girl as 
contemptible in character as puny in intellect ; 
you have used a lever which no generous 
mind would have employed ; and now, will 
you please tell me what I am to say ?' 



[ 360 



CHAPTER XVII. 

' All right !' 

When Althea's eyes allow her to read it, 
she finds that these two words compose her 
wire. 

She is standing lost in the immensity of 
her relief, when Clare's voice sounds in her 
ear. 

' No bad news, I hope ?' 

' Oh no — none.' 

Mrs. Boteler has, after all, crossed her 
sister s threshold, prepared to throw William's 
prohibition to the winds on the smallest en- 
couragement. But she gets none, and after 
a moment or two retires, rather reluctantly, 
but without putting any further question. 



DEAR FAUSTINA 361 

Althea is left to the enjoyment of her re- 
bound from suspense — an enjoyment that at 
first seems perfect, but afterwards is nibbled 
at by carping questions. 

' All right !' What does it mean ? How 
much ground does it cover ? Is the reprieve 
only a temporary one, or is the overhanging 
evil for ever averted ? If so, what means 
has Drake employed ? By what lever has 
he been able to remove the mountain of 
Faustina's purpose ? 

Over these problems she tosses most of 
the night — a regrettable waste of time and 
tissue, since morning brings the solution of, 
at all events, one of them in a letter from 
Drake himself : 

' Dear Miss Vane, 

' I hope that the telegram I have just 
sent you will relieve your anxiety. I am 
very pleased to say that I have been able 
to persuade Miss Bateson permanently to 



362 DEAR FAUSTINA 

abandon her project. She Is leaving London 
at once for some little time, so that you 
need not fear the disagreeableness of a 
meeting. 

' Trusting that this will set your mind quite 
at rest, 

' I am, 

'Yours very truly, 

'John Trecothick Drake.' 

She turns the page, to see whether there 
Is nothing more on the other side ; but the 
postscript is not as sure a find in a man's 
letter as in a woman's, and from this one It 
is altogether absent. 

She reads the note again with deep breaths 
of relief as she goes along. ' Permanently 
to abandon her project P How has he done 
it? Oh, what a relief! She can face Ned 
again ! Ned need never know ! But how 
has he done it .^^ He might have gone a 
little more into detail. 



DEAR FAUSTINA 363 

She reads it a third time. Nothing — 
absolutely nothing but the bare facts ! 

They, at least, are entirely satisfactory, 
thank God ! but he must have known how 
she would hunger for an explanation. He 
need not have been quite so short, nor — with 
a fourth survey — quite so dry. 

At that she takes herself up for carping at 
one who has just done her such an un- 
speakable service. Ah ! but in letting him 
do it has she lost him } Has Faustina re- 
peated to him the calumnies that had driven 
her (Althea) blind and staggering into the 
public street ? And has he, in part at least, 
and against his will, believed them ? 

The question buries her face downwards in 
her pillows, so deep that the light knock with 
which someone prefaces her entrance is un- 
heard by her. She jumps back to the con- 
sciousness that Clare, in a pretty dressing- 
gown, and with a still prettier morning smile, 
is standing by her bed. 



364 DEAR FAUSTINA 

' Were you asleep ? and do you always lie 
on your face ?' 

' Never.' 

' I came to ask how you are.' 

' How kind of you !' 

' Did you sleep well ?' 

' Middling.' 

* And had a satisfactory post ?' 

'A very small one.' 

With a careless air, Althea's hand goes 
out towards the letter lying face uppermost 
on the counterpane, and covers it. 

' But a pleasant one ?' 

'Oh yes, quite pleasant' 

The elder sister makes a slight pause, as it 
expecting something further ; but nothing 
comes, and with a faint and very passing 
cloud on her brightness she goes away. 

All through that day Althea has the dis- 
agreeable consciousness that Clare is naturally 
expecting some further explanation of the 
cause that has thrown her upon William 



DEAR FAUSTINA 365 

Boteler's hospitality, expecting her to give a 
slight sketch of the levin bolt that has split 
a friendship proudly warranted to outlive the 
everlasting hills. 

But such explanation, such sketch, Althea 
is absolutely Incapable of giving. Her deity 
lies in shivers, proved to have been no more 
a deity than ' the brutish gods of Nile,' Its 
godhood having never existed save in the 
dulness of her own belief ; but the days are 
yet too recent, when from its shrine It sent 
out inspiration, and she knelt in adoration on 
its altar-steps, for her to be able to face the 
storm of well-merited stones that would assail 
her fallen Dagon were she to explain to 
what a depth it had sunk. 

She shivers away from the topic as often 
as she sees any approach made to it ; and 
Clare, after one or two delicate essays at a 
fuller confidence, desists, hiding whatever 
disappointment she may feel under the mantle 
of tender compassion in which she wraps the 



366 DEAR FAUSTINA 

strayed lamb. And, after all, she does not 
feel much. 

Althea has recovered her wits — that is all 
that really matters — though by so mortifying a 
method that she naturally has no great desire 
to talk of it ; through the agency of plenty of 
new milk and strong consomme she will soon 
also regain her looks and spirits ; and mean- 
while it is kindest to let her alone. 

Althea accepts with dumb gratitude this 
discreet and merciful mode of treatment. For 
the first day or two she is still so numbed 
and bruised, that she has little feeling save 
for the physical repose and well-being that 
are to repair the ravages made even more by 
Faustina's cruelty than by her cuisine. 

The immensity of the relief from her ap- 
prehension is followed by a proportionate 
reaction. She has explained to herself the 
brevity of Drake's note by the natural hypo- 
thesis that he will call in person to eke out the 
scantiness of his communication. Her brain 



DEAR FAUSTINA 367 

busies Itself in a woolly way with the problem 
of how to manoeuvre for him an opportunity 
to see her alone when he does call. But no 
need for such manoeuvring arises, and the 
first thing that lifts the girl out of her 
lethargy is the realization that the days are 
going by, and that Drake has made no sign. 

* She is a pretty girl, and you know I 
would do anything for either of your sisters,' 
William says one day to his wife, with the 
natural resentment of a mauvais plaisant 
whose wit has miscarried ; ' but I must say 
that she is a bit of a wet-blanket.' 

' I am afraid she is barely up to joking 
yet,' replies his wife soothingly. 

' She must be precious thin-skinned if she 
cannot stand a little chaff. I thought she 
liked It' 

' So she will, I am sure, when she Is herself 
again,' rejoins Mrs. Boteler sweetly and sin- 
cerely. 

But William is not to be so easily mollified, 



36S DEAR FAUSTINA 

and he goes off grumbling, ' So unlike Fanny !' 
It is with Fanny that he seeks comfort. 

' You will not burst into tears if I say 
anything a little amusing to you, as Althea 
does ?' 

' Burst into tears !' echoes Fanny, with 
renovating surprise — 'what do you mean? 
You know that you always make me die of 
laughing. 1 do not know how you manage 
it, but you do.' 

His brow clears. But it is destined to be 
overcast again for the same cause many times 
during the ensuing weeks, since it is as im- 
possible for William not to make jokes as it 
is for Althea to laugh at them. In vain she 
tells herself that the part of the day during 
which she is exposed to the fire of his 
pleasantries is so small that her gratitude 
might pay to his hospitality the tribute of a 
little mirth. The quality of his humour 
seems to have the faculty of inevitably 
stiffening her muscles. 



DEAR FAUSTINA 369 

And if there is anything else about him 
that tries her more than his fun, it is his 
tiresome soHcitude about his wife's health — 
the pushing of needless stools, and insisting 
on undesired sofas, proclaiming as they do 
to each chance comer Clare's hopes of 
maternity. The first two or three times 
that this occurs, Althea glances at her sister 
with sympathetic indignation ; but seeing her 
with cheerful gratitude accept the superfluous 
footstool, and lie down upon the sofa on 
which she had rather have sat upright, she 
withdraws her unneeded compassion, and 
centres it all upon herself. 

And in truth she is very unhappy. The 
recovery of her nerves from the shock of the 
explosion is so incomplete as to leave an 
irritability behind it which renders her diffi- 
cult to live with. 

The violent death by which her passionate 
love and reverence for Faustina has perished 
has left a void which, as she gloomily tells 

24 



370 DEAR FAUSTINA 

herself, nothing can ever fill ; her plan of 
noble life is in ignoble shivers ; and till 
intercourse with him has ceased, she has 
not realized how much she had grown to 
lean upon Drake. He had done his best 
for her, as his high heart always prompts 
him to do for any suffering creature ; but 
now that his task is ended he has passed 
on from her to some other pain that needs 
him more. 

Is there any such ? She shakes her head. 
And these happy people into whose lives she 
has thrust herself, only to take the edge off 
their pleasantness, do not need her. Often 
it fills her with a grieved surprise, that yet 
does not alter the case, to find how abso- 
lutely out of touch she has grown with their 
interests. 

Those months of face-to-faceness with the 
grimnesses of life appear to have robbed her 
of all zest for its graces. And yet her whole 
scheme of existence seems now to have been 



DEAR FAUSTINA 371 

SO entirely bound up with Faustina's as to 
have necessarily perished with her. 

There is one person who could have 
helped her to reconstruct it, to weave afresh 
the strands of the broken web ; but he has 
thought it best to abstain from meddling any 
further in her concerns. He has probably, 
like Faustina, recognized her incapacity to 
grapple with any real difficulties, to carry out 
any worthy task. If he had not, would he 
at such a turning-point of her history have 
left her ? 

And meanwhile she will have to make 
some plan for her future life. The place of 
resident sister-in-law, once so affectionately 
offered her, is no longer vacant. Fanny has 
more than justified by brilliant success her 
appointment to it, and a man would have 
to be ' either a wild beast or a god ' who 
could desire the permanent presence of ^wo 
' in-laws ' by his hearthstone. 

Even if William came under one of these 



372 DEAR FAUSTINA 

heads, of which Althea sees no sign, the 
approaching baby will at its advent make an 
extra inmate impossible, or at least highly 
inconvenient. She points this out to her 
sister, and Clare, though sweetly and hos- 
pitably waving away the subject, does not 
deny the fundamental truth of the proposi- 
tion. Perhaps she is beginning to realize 
that it is through Althea that have come to 
her the only conjugal jars that have marred 
her bliss. 

And Althea herself.'* With daily deepen- 
ing gloom she realizes that she has cast 
herself out of her own sphere, without having 
gained a footing in any other. There is not 
a spot on earth where she is not a super- 
fluity. 

The season draws towards it close, and 
London is nearing its most smelly and gasping 
moment. William's anxieties about his wife 
are now complicated by fears of the possible 
effect upon her of the unusual heat, and his 



DEAR FAUSTINA 573 

fussy exertions to keep Clare cool send up 
everybody else's temperature. 

The villa at Wimbledon which is the out- 
come of his cares, and to which the family 
now migrate from Saturday to Monday, is a 
sensible relief to all. It is a large villa, with 
an Italian name, and charming grounds that 
wander away into a pretty wood — -a real 
wood, with well-girthed trees and flourishing 
bracken. One might be a hundred miles 
from London, which each visitor remarks as 
punctually as we all annually comment with 
surprising surprise upon the lengthening days 
of March and the drawing-in evenings of 
October. It is not too distant from London 
for Fanny to accomplish her tale of balls 
from it, and on Sundays limp Londoners are 
only too glad to avail themselves of its green 
shades and its bamboo chairs. 

It is a pleasant life, and for the first few 
days even Althea's spirits feel the tonic of its 
cool charm ; then, with returning energies, 



374 DEAR FAUSTINA 

seems to come an added power of tasting the 
bitterness of her own failure. Her irritation 
reaches its culminating-point one Saturday 
afternoon, when Fanny, having been sHghtly 
stung by a wasp in the morning — a calamity 
which has made William spend himself in 
caresses and remedies — has been recom- 
pensed on his return from the Stock Ex- 
change by the present of a pair of mechanical 
toys, bought with the object of distracting 
her attention from her sufferings. 

Fanny is fond of toys, and at once kneels 
delightedly down on the veranda, and, wind- 
ing up one, sets it off. William follows suit 
with the other, and soon two pigs — a woolly 
white and a snuffy brown one — are racing 
in short chopping gallop across the tiled floor, 
to the accompaniment of their owner's un- 
bounded mirth. Althea laughs, too, inevitably 
at the clicking, bumping, colliding swine, but 
at some thought checks herself. 

* Are not they too funny for words ?' cries 



DEAR FAUSTINA 375 

Fanny, still kneeling, flushed and rapturous. 
' Did you ever see such archangels ?' 

' Come, do not be too strong-minded to 
smile once in a way,' adds William waggishly. 

If she complies, it is a little austerely. 

* The fact is, I am always afraid to be 
amused at anything of the sort until I know 
how they are made.' 

Fanny sits back on her heels, opening her 
eyes. 

'How they are made? What do you 
mean ?' 

' I mean that I like to know how much 
human suffering they imply.' Then, seeing 
both her companions, with arrested gaiety, 
look to her for explanation, she goes on : 
' For instance, one would think that children's 
balloons and indiarubber toys were harmless 
things, would not one ? Yet in the factories 
where they are made, where carbon bi- 
sulphide is employed, the vapours are so 
noxious that workers have been known to go 



376 DEAR FAUSTINA 

mad, and try to throw themselves out of the 
windows.' 

There Is a rather dismal silence, and 
Althea proceeds further to Improve the 
occasion. 

• It is as well to know how many tears go 
to make up one laugh, is not It ?' 

' You are, at all events, resolved that there 
shall not be too much laugh where yoti are,' 
replies William rudely. 

She retorts In the same tone, and for 
the first time their covert exasperation with 
each other breaks out in too candid speech. 
Fanny wisely slides away, and they are left 
to fight it out. 

It is of no use that, in a paroxysm of sub- 
sequent remorse, Althea flings herself at 
Clare's knees, crying : 

' You had better let me go before I have 
quite spoilt all your lives.' 

' I am sure you do not mean to do it,' 
replies poor Mrs. Boteler rather miserably. 



DEAR FAUSTINA 377 

The next day is Sunday, and by the after- 
noon, when the London visitors begin to 
arrive, the brows of the family are smoothed. 
William has injudiciously insisted upon 
formally apologizing, which has made things 
much worse ; but outwardly the halcyon 
seems to brood. 

Althea has ardently tried to stem the 
current of her brother-in-law's too florid 
acknowledgments by the candid confession 
of her own superior faultiness, and though 
the personal distaste for him lasts, and must 
last, it is against herself that her whole 
contrite soul is crying out during the morn- 
ing service in the church on the Common. 

If hearts could be laid bare, what strangely 
various tributary streams of confession would 
be seen flowing into that General one to 
whose noble tune our lips weekly move ! 
How much more of temper and spite than 
real concern for the sufferers by the abuse 
she had so superfluously dragged in had she 



378 DEAR FAUSTINA 

felt yesterday ! The fact so clumsily intro- 
duced is true, and can be matched with 
hundreds of other heartrending ones of the 
vSame kind. But how much more harm than 
good had she done by lugging it in so mal- 
apropos by the head and shoulders! How 
full of alloy are her best motives ! how profit- 
less her activities ! how pitiable the outcome 
of both ! 

• I shall never do anything with my life,' 
she says to herself as she walks home. 

She repeats it in deeper dejection later in 
the afternoon as she sits alone — since every- 
one else, both visitors and housemates, have 
strayed away garden- and woodwards — at the 
deserted tea-table. It is set in the verandah, 
where every variety of wicker chair and 
lounge invites to repose. On the pleasant 
house the awnings are still lowered against 
the heat, but a little lazy air comes from 
courting the gay flower-beds to lift the hair 
of the drooping girl. 



DEAR FAUSTINA 379 

She has been pouring out tea for Clare, 
having caught with remorseful eagerness at 
even this poor little chance of being useful. 
But now all, like Wordsworth's stag, have 
' drunk their fill,' and left her. 

Her head, beautifully dressed by Clare's 
maid in the latest mode, hangs over the back 
of her bamboo chair ; her feet, in pale silk 
stockings and broidered shoes, rest on the 
rung of a vacated seat near her ; and her 
faint-coloured gown, thin and expensive, 
drifts about her as the light wind gently 
pulls at it. A more exquisite picture of 
opulent idleness it would be difficult to see, 
or one more unlike that working woman 
whom she had been so proud to call herself 

It is the sharp consciousness of this contrast, 
both to the setting in which he had been 
wont to see her, and still more to the con- 
dition in which he had last parted from her, 
that is for the first moment uppermost in the 
jumble of feelings with which a late arrival 



38o DEAR FAUSTINA 

from London is overwhelmed and silenced 
as he now looks at her. 

He has stepped, footman-led, through the 
wide-open drawing-room windows, and, hear- 
ing steps, she lifts her head languidly, think- 
ing that it is the servants coming to take 
away the tea. 



[38i ] 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

The discovery of her mistake brings her to 
her feet In a second. Even In the hurry of 
springing up from a low chair, ' How graceful!' 
is his thought. For awhile she stands, a 
silent lily — silent as her sisters in the parterre 
— before him ; then speaks sighingly : 

' You have been a long while in coming.' 

They are far from being the words which 
she would have chosen, but they seem to say 
themselves. 

'Yes.' 

^ I began to think that you were not coming 
at all.' 

' Did you ?' 



382 DEAR FAUSTINA 

' I have been very anxious to see you ' — 
a slight interval — 'in order to thank you.' 

' You did thank me.' 

' Only on paper — for such a service !' 

She stops, words running short, as they 
are apt to do when any extra demand is 
made upon them. 

' Indeed you are overrating it.' 

' Overrating it ! I wonder, have you any 
idea how great — how infinite the relief was ?' 

' I hoped it would be.' 

' I can never, never, never thank you 
enough ! But how did you do it ? By what 
miracle ? What arguments did you use ?' 

Her questions tumble over each other in 
her haste, but there is in her companion no 
corresponding hurry to answer. 

' How did you do it? You do not know 
how I have thirsted to hear! Oh, do tell 
me!' 

Her hands are clasped together, and held 
up close under her chin, which always gives 



DEAR FAUSTINA 383 

a greater air of urgency. But in his eyes 
she reads no acquiescence, only a deep 
embarrassment. 

' Do not you think it is just as well some- 
times not to know how the strings are pulled ?' 

She is silenced for a moment, brought up 
against the dead wall of his resistance ; then 
persists : 

' Surely you must understand of what pro- 
found interest it is to me to learn how you 
succeeded where /failed so egregiously.' 

' I am afraid I cannot tell you.' 

His face is so full of distress, and his tone 
so final, that she has no choice but to yield. 
She turns away to the table, and in a con- 
strained voice offers him tea. As he takes it 
from her, he sees that a far-reaching blush, 
extending from ear to ear, has swallowed up 
her pallor. 

She has interpreted his refusal after her 
own manner. The reason why he is unable 
to give her the details of his interview with 



384 DEAR FAUSTINA 

Faustina Is because those details have 
largely consisted in such shameful accusations 
against herself as have never quite ceased 
their odious chime in her ears since the 
dreadful hour when she first heard them. 
Her tone is stiff and changed when she next 
speaks : 

' You, at least, will not mind telling me — 
if you remember, you said in your note that 
she was leaving London for awhile — whether 
she has yet returned.' 

* She has gone to America on a lecturing 
tour.' 

' Gone to America !' She falls into her 
bamboo chair again, as if her legs could not 
support the weight of such news, while a 
long sigh of relief heaves her laces and lawns. 
' And to think that I should have lived to be 
glad that she is in another hemisphere !' 

It is his turn to put a question : 

' And Miss Delafield ?' 

' She has gone into the country with her 



DEAR FAUSTINA 385 

parents to celebrate her coming of age. My 
eldest brother is staying with them.' 

The news had given her a sensible pleasure 
when she heard it, but she announces it now 
in a tone of the deepest dejection. 

* But you are glad ?' 

' Oh yes — very glad !' 

There is so little of the quality alluded to 
in Althea's voice or words that he looks at 
her puzzled and chilled. Naturally unable to 
follow the course of her thoughts, her change 
of weather vaguely disheartens him ; while 
the conviction to which his refusal to enter 
into explanations has made her leap, that he 
has heard and believed Faustina's calumnies, 
and that to them has been owing his delay 
in seeking her, ties lead to the tongue which 
in many imaginary dialogues since they 
parted has been so eagerly glib. 

Since she has not given him leave to sit 
down, he remains standing by her, hat in 
hand, while in the distance, across the bosky 

25 



386 DEAR FAUSTINA 

lawn, little groups of people are moving in 
leisurely enjoyment. Among them Althea 
detects the Boteler pair. William has made 
Clare lean on his arm, as he is fond of doing 
in public — a tiresome mode of announcement 
of his hopes of paternity, which always makes 
his sister-in-law very angry. She forgets to 
be angry now, in the anxiety of gauging 
the likelihood of their turning housewards. 
There seems to be no immediate fear of it, 
as they are talking to successive guests. 
Althea knows that Clare likes to be near 
William when he is in company, both to act 
as a gentle drag upon his sprightliness, and 
to hinder his asking after people's dead or 
disgraced relations, as he has a well-meant, 
but uncomfortable, way of doing. 

After all, why should Althea desire their 
absence, seeing that their presence would be 
no interruption, since she and Drake seem to 
have absolutely nothing to say to each other? 
After a while it appears that he has some- 



DEAR FAUSTINA 387 

thing to say, and when he can speak from 
beneath the douche of cold water that her 
manner had poured over him, he says it : 

' I should have been earlier to see you, 
only that ' 

* Only that ; what ?' 

He wonders why her voice should tremble 
so much ; he does not know that she is 
breathlessly asking herself with what words 
not grossly insulting he can put the explana- 
tion of his repugnance to meet her. 

* Only that I thought it kinder to stay 
away.' 

* Kinder /' 

How painfully she is reddening again ! 
' I thought that the sight of me must be 
odious to you.' 

She says neither ' Yes * nor ' No.' 

* It was not my fault ; but I knew that to 
you I must be associated with the most 
painful and repulsive experience of your life.* 

He gets no contradiction. 



388 DEAR FAUSTINA 

' I see by your silence that I was right, 
and so, as I say, I thought it kinder not to 
thrust myself upon you till those associations 
had had time to weaken. If I had been really 
kind, I suppose I should have kept away 
altogether ; but I was not quite up to that.' 

She listens in apparently acquiescent 
dumbness ; and, after waiting vainly for any 
reassuring utterance from her, he adds, in a 
tone of deeply-wounded feeling, and with 
what, though she is not looking at him, she 
knows to be a comprehensive glance at her 
luxurious surroundings : 

' At all events, now you have found your 
right setting.' 

There is something so unmistakably 
' going ' about the air that accompanies this 
last phrase that she rouses herself, and, 
sitting upright in her chair, with a hand on 
each wicker arm, lifts a strangely-moved, 
indignant face towards him, speaking at last 
in an intense low voice : 



DEAR FAUSTINA 389 



* I cannot compliment you upon your 
penetration.' 

' Are you Implying that I am wrong ? that 
you are not happy ?' 

' I am miserable.' 

' Is It possible .^' — with agitation — 'and yet, 
when I first caught sight of you, I had such 
an Impression of perfect well-being — of the 
right woman In the right place.' 

* The right woman In the right place — 
lying In a wicker chair doing nothing ; that 
Is all you think I am fit for.' He makes a 
sign of eager denial ; but she goes on : 
' However, appearances are deceitful, as I 
told you w^hen you accused me of going to 
faint at my tea-party In Canning Town.' 

The mention of that stormy entertainment 
draws them at once nearer together ; and 
without waiting any longer for leave, he sits 
down beside her. 

' And you are miserable f 

' I say It advisedly — I am miserable ; not 



390 DEAR FA USTINA 

only so, but I am the cause of misery in 
others.' She reads such a refreshing in- 
credulity of this last statement in her listener's 
face that she sails on with a high courage : 
* They took me in when, on your advice, I 
threw myself upon their compassion ; they 
did their best to cheer and comfort me, and, 
in return, I am the viper who has come out 
of the heat and stung them.' She is surprised 
herself at the force and beauty of this 
metaphor ; but he receives it only with open- 
eyed amazement. ' I know that it is very 
tiresome to be made the recipient of an 
unasked confidence ; but it is, or seems, so 
long since I have had anyone to talk to 
a cceur ouvert, that you must try to forgive 
me.' 

He has an impression that her hand has 
half slidden out towards him, but the in- 
tention remains only a sketch ; and they are 
both growing so upset that neither is quite 
sure about it. 



DEAR FAUSTINA 391 

' I was afraid that it would be some time 
before you got over such a shock,' he says, in 
a tone of the gravest, kindest sympathy, his 
words coming very unreadily, through the 
excess of his apprehension lest he should 
happen upon any that might touch her on the 
raw. ' I know that to you it was the loss, 
not only of the person you loved best in the 
world, but of a creed.' 

She gives a slow assent, head downbent, 
the toe of one little shoe drawing restless 
designs on the floor ; then, as if dissatisfied, 
qualifies it : 

' And yet, no ; that does not cover the 
area of my unhappiness. I could do with- 
out Faustina' — pronouncing her name very 
distinctly, to show him how well she can 
manage it — ' since I have learnt that she 
never existed as I believed her to be. I 
could do without her, if only I could find 
someone else to teach me how to set about 
rebuilding my life ; the bricks are there, if 



392 DEAR FAUSTINA 

only some mason would show me how to lay 
them upon each other. Left to myself, it 
will be but a jerry-built edifice.' 

Her words, grown very low, though per- 
fectly audible, die into silence. She has 
addressed them, apparently, to the red tiles 
at her feet. It seems to her a very long 
moment before he takes up her challenge. 

' I have not yet told you the chief motive 
that brought me here to-day.' 

She snatches a half-reproachful glance at 
him. 

' I hoped that it was a friendly feeling for 
me. Had you any other ?' 

He does not answer her directly. 

' Do you remember,' he says slowly, ' that 
evening at Canning Town, just before we 
parted ' 

' Yes.' 

' You said to me that if it were not for 
Faustina, and what you owed her, you would 
be inclined to come among us for good. 



DEAR FAUSTINA 393 



What I have come here for to-day is to ask 
you whether that was a passing impulse, or 
the expression of a lasting desire.' 

Her gray eyes have leapt up from the tiles 
to throw themselves into his. That is at 
first the sole response he gets ; but presently 
a trembling sentence falters forth : 

' Do not tantalize me. Is there any place 
— can any place for me be found among 
you ?' 

' Have not you already suffered enough 
maltreatment at our hands ?* 

They both laugh joyfully. 

' Not nearly !' 

A moment later a slight cloud obscures her 
brilliancy. 

' But the question is, Can you find any 
sphere of work for me where I shall not do 
you discredit ? Voic know how apt I am to 
bungle everything I attempt.' 

* I will risk it.' 

Again eyes and smiles meet, and there is 



394 DEAR FAUSTINA 



a blissful pause. He Is the first to become 
business-like. 

' I need not say that I have tied you to 
nothing. I came here with not very high 
hopes ; but if you really care to cast in your 
lot with us, there is a place waiting for 
you.' 

' What sort of a place ? Shall I be up to 
it ? Shall I dare to undertake it ?' 

' I think so. Do you know that we have 
at last got our Women's Settlement on its 
feet?' 

' Yes ?' 

'It is open to all women, and does not 
postulate a University education.' 

'No?' 

' We have knocked three or four houses 
into one, and got our Lady Principal, and 
started our classes, and have been for a week 
in working order.* 

' Yes r 

' The residents are boarded and lodged ; 



DEAR FAUSTINA 395 

each has a little room of her own, and 
common sitting and dining rooms ; and each 
takes up a special branch of work.' 

' Such as ' 

' Such as nursing the poor in their own 
homes, teaching classes of boys.' 

She has been following him with breathless 
attention, but at the enumeration of the two 
kinds of service he has instanced shakes 
her head despondently. 

' Should I be any good at either } I have 
grown to distrust myself so utterly.' 

' You must not be impatient. I have not 
reached your place among us yet.' At that 
she cheers up again. ' You remember your 
special girls — the ones who were turned off 
from their factory for giving information to 
the inspector ?' 

' Of course I do !' 

' If you recollect, you were very kind to 
them — dancing with them at our social 
evenings ' 



396 DEAR FAUSTINA 

'You are not going to suggest that I 
shall set up as the D'Egville of Canning 
Town ?' 

* Will not you let me unfold my plan before 
you begin to pick holes In It ?' She lays her 
hand across her lips with a pretty gesture of 
determined silence, and he goes on : * What 
I came here to suggest was that you should 
utilize a talent I know that you possess In 
their behalf.' 

She lifts her eyebrows Incredulously, but 
In her voice Is an eager hope : 

* Do I possess one ?' 

' I know that, like Desdemona, you are 
" delicate with your needle." ' 

' Yes, that Is the one thing I am not 
mediocre at.' 

She looks to him with joyful alertness for 
further explanation. 

* Well, then, you could render us really 
valuable help by getting those girls together 
and starting a co-operative workroom.' 



DEAR FAUSTINA 397 



There Is a slight pause, but Althea's 
kindling look and genial expansion reassure 
him as to Its not being one of disapproval. 

* I think you Aave found something for me 
that I might venture to undertake,' she says 
humbly, yet with confidence. ' How clever 
of you to have hit upon my one gift ! It has 
lain In a napkin so long — Faustina could not 
bear the sight of a needle — that I hope It has 
not grown rusty.' 

' Let me give you a rough outline of my 
Idea,' he says, a slight conscientious mis- 
giving at the unquestioning docility of her 
acquiescence mingling with his relief and 
joy, ' that I may not feel I am letting you In 
for what you do not understand.' 

She makes a sign of eager assent. 

* I thought that you might get them to 
come to one of the class-rooms — they are 
out of work, and would be only too thank- 
ful ; and send out circulars to your friends, 
telling them at what rate you would take 



398 DEAR FAUSTINA 

in every kind of needlework and dress- 
making"/ 

She gives him a nod of bright agreement, 
and he goes on : 

' I am only giving you the idea in the 
rough, but I am sure that it has the elements 
of success in it, as it would supply an already 
badly -felt want. I know that you could 
make something of it.' 

* Do you really believe that I might ? At 
all events, I shall be only too thankful to 
try ' — with a long sigh of relief. ' When may 
I come ?' 

' The sooner the better.' 

In the eagerness of their project and their 
proximity, both have again risen. 

*And if I get into difficulties — if I want 
advice — help — will you be within reach to 
give it me ?' 

* I shall be close at hand ; I live at the 
Men's Settlement.' 

Both are silent for awhile, a delightful 



DEAR FAUSTINA 399 

dawning sense of the unity of interest that 
is for the future to connect their lives giving 
their spirits that sort of hush that comes with 
the real dawn. It is Althea who first regains 
tremulous speech : 

' How recklessly I am adding to my debt 
of gratitude to you, which was already far too 
big ever to be discharged !' 

He answers her look with a tender fixity. 

' And you have counted the cost ? You 
will not regret all this ?' 

His eye takes in with a comprehensive 
look all the details of her high civilization. 
She breaks into emotional laughter. 

* The gown is Clare's ; the shoes are 
Fanny's — I renounce them all !' 

' What are you renouncing ?' cries William, 
appearing round an unexpected corner, with 
his wife still leaning on his unnecessary arm, 
and looking curiously at Althea's unknown 
companion, while he adds, in a fine vein 
of flat pleasantry : ' What are you renouncing 



400 DEAR FAUSTINA 

— your godfathers and godmothers? Is not 
it rather late In the day to do that ?' 

She turns upon him with a radiant smile. 

' Not my godfathers and godmothers — but 
my brother-in-law !' 



THE END. 



BILLING AND SONS, I'RINTERS, GUILDFORD. 

y. D. &> Co. 




Autumn, 1896. 



Bentleys' favourite floVels, 

SELECTED FROM AMONG THE BEST WORKS OF 
FICTION OF EACH YEAR. 

Each vohune can he obtained se2oarately in crown Svo., cloth, 
price 6s., dt all booksellers' a7id raihvay bookstalls in the 
United Kingdom, and at all the leading booksellers' and 
importers' in the Colonies, and at the railway bookstalls in 
India and Australia. 



^ THE INITIALS. 

By the Baeoness Tautphceus {n4e Montgomery). 

*VOne of those special and individual tales the coming of which is 
pleasantly welcomed. It must please all who love character in persons 
lower than Antonys and Cleopatras. No better humoured or less carica- 
tured picture of life in Germany has ever been executed by an English 
pencil." — The Athenceum. 

7 QUITS ! 

By the Baroness Tautphceus (n^e Montgomery). 

*' • Quits !' is an admirable novel. Witty, sententious, graphic, full of 
brilliant pictures of life and manners, it is positively one of the best of 
modern stories, and may be read with delightful interest from cover to 
cover." — 77/e Mornimj Post. 

" Interesting in the highest degree." — The Observer, 



BENTLEYS' FAVOURITE NOVELS. 



8 TOO STRA.NGE NOT TO BE TRUE. 

By Lady Geoegiana Fullekton. 

" One of the most fascinating and delightful works I ever had the good 
fortune to meet with, in which genius, goodness, and beauty meet together 
in the happiest comlDination, with the additional charm of an historical 
basis." — "EiNONACH," in Notes and Queries. 

10 THE THREE CLERKS. 

By Anthony Teollope. 

*' . . . Trollope's next novel was ' The Three Clerks,' which we have 
always greatly admired and enjoyed, but which we fancied had come before 
the ecclesiastical fictions. The sorrows, the threatened moral degradation 
of poor Charlie Tudor, the persecution he underwent from the low money- 
lender — all these things seemed very actual to us, and now we know that 
they were photographs reproduced from the life. The novel seems to have 
been a special favourite of its author's, and perhaps he places almost higher 
than we should be inclined to do the undoubtedly pathetic love-scenes of 
which Kate Woodward is the heroine. He declares elsewhere, if we re- 
m( mber aright, that one of these scenes was the most touching he ever 
wrote. And he says here, * The passage in which Kate Woodward, think- 
ing she will die, tries to take leave of the lad she loves, still brings tears to 
my eyes when I read it. I had not the heart to kill her. I never could 
do that. And I do not doubt but that they are living happily together to 
this day.' " — The T'imes (reviewing Anthony Trollope's Autobiography ). 

*' Mr. Trollope amply bears out in the work the reputation he acquired 
by 'Barchester Towers.' We regard the tenderness and self-sacrifice of 
Linda as one of the most graceful and touching pictures of feminine heroism 
in the whole range of modern novels." — John Bull. 

"I return ' The Three Clerks ' with our true thanks and appreciation. 
I was wrung to tears by the third volume. What a thoroughly man's book 
it is !" — Letter of Mrs, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 

11 UNCLE SILAS. 

By Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. 

'* We cordially recommend this remarkable novel to all who have leisure 
to read it, satisfied that for many a day afterwards the characters there 
portrayed will haunt the minds of those who have become acquainted with 
them. Shakespeare's famous line, ' Macbeth hath murdered sleep,' might 
be altered for the occasion, for certainly ' Uncle Silas ' has murdered sleep 
in many a past night, and is likely to murder it in many a night to come, 
by that strange mixture of fantasies like truths and truths like fantasies 
which make us feel, as we rise from the perusal, as if we had been under a 
wizard's spell." — The Times. 

'♦ The first character is Uncle Silas, that mysterious man of sin ; the 
next is the ghoul-like goblin of a French governess— the most awful gover- 
ness in fiction. Then we have the wandering lunatic whom we take for a 
ghost, and who is even more dreadful. Finally, there is the tremendous 
scene in the lonely Irish house. No one who has read it can forget it, or 
the chapters which precede it ; no one who has not read it should have his 
pleasure spoiled by a description." — The Daily News. 



BENTLEYS' FAVOURITE NOVELS. 



12 LADYBIRD. 

By Lady Georgiana Fullerton. 

"Lady Georgiana Fullerton has wrought out her plot with power, 
delicacy, occasional depth of thought, and general felicity of language. " — 
The Athenmum. [Reprinting. 

14 THE HOUSE BY THE CHURCHYARD. 

By Joseph Sheeidan Le Fanu. 

" Le Fanu was one of the best story-tellers that ever wrote English. 
We protest that, as we write, one fearful story comes to our mind which 
brings on a cold feeling though we read it years ago. The excitement is 
so keen that anyone but a reviewer will find himself merely * taking the 
colour ' of whole sentences in his eagerness to get to the finish. His instinct 
is so rare that he seems to pick the very mood most calculated to excite 
your interest. Without explanation, without affectation, he goes on piling 
one situation on another until at last he raises a perfect fabric. We know 
not one improvisatore who can equal him." — Vanity Fair. 

'* Le Fanu possessed a peculiar — an almost unique — faculty for combining 
the weird and the romantic. His fancy had no limit in its ranges amongst 
themes and images of terror. Yet he knew how to invest them with a 
romantic charm which ended in exerting over his readers an irresistible 
fascination." — The Daily News. 

18 COMETH UP AS A FLOWER. 

By Rhoda Beoughton. 

" A strikingly original and clever tale, the chief merits of which consist 
in the powerful, vigorous manner of its telling, in the exceeding beauty 
and poetry of its sketches and scenery, and in the soliloquies, sometimes 
quaintly humorous, sometimes cynically bitter, sometimes plaintive and 
melancholy which are uttered by the heroine." — The Times. 

19 A SISTER'S STORY. 

By Mes. Augustus Ceaven (Pauline de la Feeeonays). 

*' A book which took all France and all England by storm." — Black- 
wood's Magazine. 

" ' A Sister's Story ' is charmingly written, and excellently translated. 
It is full of fascinating revelations of family life. Montalembert's letters, 
and the mention of him as a young man, are delightful. Interwoven with 
the story of Alexandrine are accounts of the different members of the 
family of La Ferronays. The story of their lives and deaths is beautiful ; 
their letters and diaries abound in exquisite thoughts and tender religious 
feeling." — The Athenaeum. 



BENTLEYS' FAVOURITE NOVELS. 



20 BREEZIE LANGTON. 

By Majoe Hawley Smaet. 

"A capital novel, full of sweet English girls and brave, open-hearted 
English gentlemen. It abounds with stirring scenes on the racecourse 
and in the camp, told with a rare animation, and a thorough knowledge of 
what the writer is talking about." — The Guardian. 

** We predict for this book a decided success. Had the author omitted 
his name from the title-page, we should unhesitatingly have credited 
Mr. Whyte Melville with his labours. The force and truth of the hunting 
and racing sketches, the lively chat of the club and the barracks, the 
pleasant flirting scenes, and the general tone of good society, all carry us 
back to the days of * Kate Coventry ' and ' Digby Grand.' "— The Saturday 
Review. 

21 SENSE AND SENSIBILITY. 

By Jane Austen. 

" I have now read over again all Miss Austen's novels. Charming they 
are. There are in the world no compositions which approach nearer to 
perfection." — Macaulay's Journal, May 1st, 1851. 

" First and foremost let Jane Austen be named, the greatest artist that 
has ever written, using the term to signify the most perfect master over 
the means to her end. Life, as it presents itself to an English gentle- 
woman, peacefully yet actively engaged in her quiet village, is mirrored in 
her works with a purity and fidelity that must endow them with interest 
for all time. To read one of her books is like an actual experience of life. 
You know the people as if you had lived with them, and you feel something 
of personal affection towards them. The marvellous reality and subtle 
distinctive traits noticeable in her portraits has led Macaulay to call her a 
prose Shakespeare." — George Eliot. 

" Or is it thou, all perfect Austen ? Here 
Let one poor wreath adorn thy early bier. 
That scarce allowed thy modest youth to claim 
It's living portion of thy certain fame ! 
Oh ! Mrs. Bennet ! Mrs. Norris too ! 
While memory survives we'll dream of you. 
And Mr. Woodhouse, whose abstemious lip 
Must thin, but not too thin, his gruel sip. 
Miss Bates, our idol, though the village bore ; 
And Mrs. Elton, ardent to explore. 
While the dear style flows on without pretence. 
With unstained purity and unmatched sense. 
Or, if a sister e'er approached the throne, 
She called the rich * Inheritance ' her own." 

The Earl of Carlisle. 



BENTLEYS' FAVOURITE NOVELS. 



22 PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. 

By Jane Austen. 

" S. T. Coleridge would sometimes burst out into high encomiums of 
Miss Austen's novels as being, * in their way, perfectly genuine and indi- 
vidual productions.' " — The Table-talk of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. 

" Farrier and Austen have given portraits of real society far superior to 
anything vain man has produced of the like nature. I have read again, 
and for the third time, Miss Austen's very finely written novel of * Pride 
and Prejudice.' That young lady had a talent for describing the involve- 
ments and feelings and characters of ordinary life, which is to me the most 
wonderful I ever met with. Her exquisite touch, which renders common- 
place things and characters interesting from the truth of the description 
and the sentiment, is denied to me. What a pity so gifted a creature died 
so early !" — Sir Walter Scott. 

** * Pride and Prejudice,' by Jane Austen, is a perfect type of a novel of 
common life ; the story so concisely and dramatically told, the language so 
simple, the shades of human character so clearly presented, and the opera- 
tion of various motives so delicately traced, attest this gifted woman to 
have been the perfect mistress of her art." — Arnold's English Literature. 

" One of the best of Miss Austen's unequalled works. How perfectly it 
is written !" — The Spectator. 

23 EMMA. 

By Jane Austen. 

" I am a great novel reader, but I seldom read German or French novels. 
The characters are too artificial. My delight is to read English novel?, 
particularly those written by women. 'C'est toute ime ecole de morale.' 
Miss Austen, Miss Ferrier, etc., form a school which in the excellence and 
profusion of its productions resembles the cloud of dramatic poets of the 
great Athenian age." — Gdizot. 

"Shakespeare has neither equal nor second. But among the writers 
who have approached nearest to the manner of the great master we have 
no hesitation in placing Jane Austen, a woman of whom England is jastly 
proud." — Macaulay's Essays. 

"Alfred Tennyson talked very pleasantly that evening to Annie 
Thackeray. He spoke of Jane Austen, as James Spedding does, as next 
to Shakespeare." — Sir Henry Taylor'' s Autobiography. 

"Dear books ! bright, sparkling with wit and animation, in which the 
homely heroines charm, the dull hours fly, and the very bores are enchant- 
ing." — Miss Thackeray. 

2* MANSFIELD PARK. 

By Jane Austen. 

** I have the picture fetill before me of Lord Holland lying on his bed, 
when attacked with gout, his sister. Miss Fox, beside him reading aloud, 
a3 she always did on these occasions, some one of Miss Austen's novels, of 
which he was never wearied. I well recollect the time when these charm- 
ing novels, almost unique in their style of humour, burst suddenly on the 



6 BENTLEYS' FAVOURITE NOVELS. 

world. It was sad that their writer did not live to witness the growth of 
her fame." — Sir Henry Holland's Recollections. 

"All the greatest writers of fiction are pure of the sin of writing to a 
text — Chaucer, Shakespeare, Scott, Jane Austen : and are not these pre- 
cisely the writers who do most good as well as give most pleasure?" — 
Mary Kussell Mitford. 

"Miss Austen has great power and discrimination in delineating com- 
monplace people, and her writings are a capital picture of real life with 
all the little wheels and machinery laid bare like a patent clock." — 
Longfellow's Diary. 

" Miss Austen's fame will outlive the generations that did not appreciate 
her, and her works will be ranked with the English classics as long as the 
language lasts." — The Atlas. 

"Jane Austen's novels are more true to nature, and have for my sym- 
pathies passages of finer feeling than any others of this age. " — Southey. 



25 NORTHANGER ABBEY.— PERSUASION. 
By Jane Austen. 

"Dr. Whewell, afterwards Master of Trinity, often spoke to me with 
admiration of Miss Austen's novels. On one occasion I eaid that I had 
found * Persuasion ' rather dull. He quite fired up in defence of it, insist- 
ing that it was the most beautiful of her works. This accomplished 
philosopher was deeply versed in works of fiction. I recollect his writing 
to me from Caernarvon, that he was weary of his stay, for he had read the 
circulating library twice through." — Sir Denis Le Marchant. 

" Read Dickens's * Hard Times' and another book of Pliny's ' Letters.' 
Read 'Northanger Abbey,' worth all Dickens and Pliny together. Yet 
it was the work of a girl. She was certainly not more than twenty-six. 
Wonderful creature !" — Macaulay's Journal, August 12th, 1854. 

"... Jane Austen, the great literary artist to whom we are indebted, 
among other things, for a gallery of those clerical portraits destined to last 
as long as the English language. I am one of the regular Austen vassals, 
and consider her as without a rival among English writers in her own line 
and within her own limits. She stands alone as a first-rate miniature 
painter in her own particular school of design. If we are on the look-out 
for her special excellencies, I mean exquisiteness of finish, delicacy of 
humour, and sureness of touch ... to me ' Persuasion ' is the most beauti- 
ful and the most interesting of her stories. Especially do I think it the 
most interesting, because it contains, unless I am mistaken, moi-e of herself, 
more of her own feelings, hopes, and recollections than the rest of her books 
put together. When we think of this woman of genius, at once delicate 
and strong, who had determined to live a life of duty and patient submis- 
sion to the inevitable, unlocking her heart once more as she felt the approach 
of death, and calling back to cheer her last moments those recollections 
which she had thought it her duty to put aside whilst there was yet work 
to do on earth, we are drawn to her by a new impulse, which heightens our 
admiration and warms it into a real personal affection." — Sir Francis 
Doyle's Reminiscences. 



BENTLEYS' FAVOURITE NOVELS. 



26 RED AS A ROSE IS SHE. 

By Rhoda Bkoughton. 

"There are few readers who will not be fascinated by this tale." — 
The Timef^. 

28 LADY SUSAN.— THE WATSONS. 

By Jane Austen. 
With a Memoir of the Author hy the Rev. J. E. Austen-Leigh. 

*' If I could get materials I really would write a short life of that 
wonderful woman, and raise a little money to put up a monument to her 
in Winchester Cathedral." — Macaulay'' n Jcurnal, 1858. 

" I have heard Sydney Smith, more than once, dwell with eloquence on 
the merits of Miss Austen's novels. He told me he should have enjoyed 
giving her the pleasure of reading her praises in the ' Edinburgh Review.' 
' Fanny Price ' was one of his prime favourites. I remember Miss Mitford's 
saying to me : * I would almost cut off one of my hands, if it would enable 
me to write like your aunt with the other.' " — The Rev. J. E. Austkn- 
Leigh. 

** Miss Austen's life as well as her talent seems to us unique among the 
lives of authoresses of fiction." — The Quarterly Revieiv. 

*' In England at this moment her reputation is higher and wider than 
ever it has been before. In the celebrated list of 100 best books lately 
published by the Pall Mall Gazette, no modern novelist wins so many 
suffrages as Miss Austen."— ^os^ow Literary World. 

32 OUGHT WE TO VISIT HER ? 

By Mes. Annie Edwakdes. 

"To this novel the epithets spirited, lively, original of design, and 
vigorous in working it out, may be applied without let or hindrance. In 
short, in all that goes to makeup at once an amusing and interesting story, 
it is in every way a success." — The Morning Post. 

'* Mrs, Edwardes has never done better than in her charming novel, 
' Ought We to Visit Her?' " — Vanity Fair. {Reprinting. 

35 GOOD-BYE, SWEETHEART ! 

By Rhoda Bkoughton. 

' * We are more impressed by this than by any of Miss Broughton's 
previous works. It is more carefully worked out, and conceived in a much 
higher spirit. Miss Broughton writes from the very bottom of her heart. 
There is a terrible realism about her." — The Echo. 



BENTLEYS' FAVOURITE NOVELS. 



37 THROWN TOGETHER. 

By Florence Montgomery. 

'* This charming story cannot fail to please." — Vanity Fair. 
"A delightful story. There is a thread of gold in it upon which are 
strung many lovely sentiments. " — The Washington Daily Chronicle. 

fis • NANCY. 

By Ehoda Broughton. 

*' If unwearied brilliancy of style, picturesque description, humorous and 
original dialogue, and a keen insight into human nature can make a novel 
popular, there is no doubt whatever that ' Nancy ' will take a higher place 
than anything which Miss Broughton has yet written. It is admirable 
from first to last." — The Standard. 

54 THE WOOING O'T. 

By " Mrs. Alexander." 

" Singularly interesting, while the easiness and flow of the style, the 
naturalness of the conversation, and the dealing with individual character 
are such that the reader is charmed from the beginning to the very end." 
— The Morning Post. 

" A charming story with a charming heroine." — Vanity Fair. 

" • The Wooing o't ' and ' Her Dearest Foe ' lifted Mrs. Alexander at 
once to the height of popularity — popularity so great that we recollect, just 
after the appearance of the former tale, hearing of a luncheon-party for 
young girls, fourteen in number, where an empty chair, flower-crowned, 
was set at table in honour of Trafford, its hero." — The Boston Literary 
World. 

57 NOT WISELY, BUT TOO WELL. 

By Ehoda Broughton. 

" Miss Broughton's popularity in all ranks of society shows no sign of 
decline. A short time ago Captain Markham, of the Alert, was introduced 
to her at his own request. He told her that in some remote Arctic latitudes 
an ice-bound mountain was christened Mount Rhoda as an acknowledg- 
ment of the pleasure which her tales had given to the officers of the Alert." 
—The World. 

6» COMIN' THRO' THE RYE. 

By Helen Mathers (Mrs. Reeves). 

"A clever novel ; never dull, and never hang:? fire." — The Standard. 

"There is a great deal of power in 'Coniin' thro' the Rye.' There is 
originality in the tragic plot, arid an unceasing current of fun which saves 
the tragedy from becoming sombre." — The Athenceum. 



BENTLEYS' FAVOURITE NOVELS. 



«i LEAH: A WOMAN OF FASHION. 

By Mrs. x\nnie Edwardes. 

" 'Leah ' is the best, the cleverest, and strongest novel that we have as 
yet had in the season, as it is certainly Mrs. Edwardes's masterpiece." — 
The World. 

" Mrs. Edwardes's last novel is the strongest and most complete which 
she has yet produced." — The Saturday Review. 

^ HER DEAREST FOE. 

-By " Mes. Alexander." 

"Mrs. Alexander has written nothing better. The book altogether 
abounds in bright and sparkling passages." — The Saturday Review. 

" There is not a single character in this novel which is not cleverly con- 
ceived and successfully illustrated, and not a page which is dull." — The 
World. 

«« SUCCESS, AND HOW HE WON IT. 

From the German of E. Werner. 

"'Success, and How He Won It' deserves all praise. The story is 
charming and original, and it is told with a delicacy which makes it 
irresistibly fascinating and attractive." — The Standard. 

'* A book which can hardly be too highly spoken of. It is full of interest, 
it abounds in exciting incidents, though it contains nothing sensational ; 
it is marvellously pathetic, the characters are drawn in a masterly style, 
and the descriptive portions are delightful." — The London Figaro. 

«« JOAN. 

By Rhoda Beoughton. 

" There is something very distinct and original in * Joan.' It is more 
worthy, more noble, more unselfish than any of her predecessors, while the 
story is to the full as bright and entertaining as any of those which first 
made Miss Broughton famous." — The Daily News. 

"Were there evermore delightful figures in fiction than 'Mr. Brown' 
and his fellow doggies in Miss Broughton's 'Joan ' ?" — The Daily News 
{on another occasion). 

70 FOR THE TERM OF HIS NATURAL LIFE. 

By Marcus Clarke. 

" A striking novel. It appeals while it fascinates, by reason of the 
terrible reality which marks the individual characters living and breathing 
in it, and the tragic power of its situations." — 2'he Morning Post. 

" There can, indeed, I think, be no two opinions as to the horrible 
fascination of the book. The reader who takes it up and gets beyond the 
Prologue — though he cannot but be harrowed by the long agony of the 



lo BENTLEYS' FAVOURITE NOVELS. 

story, and the human anguish of every page, is unable to lay it down ; 
almost in spite of himself he has to read and to suffer to the bitter end. 
To me, I confess, it is the most terrible of all novels, more terrible than 
* Oliver Twist,' or Victor Hugo's most startling effects, for the simple 
reason that it is more real. It has all the solemn ghastliness of truth." — 
The Eael of Rosebery. 

72 THE FIRST VIOLIN. 

By Jessie Fotheegill. 

' * The story is extremely interesting from the first page to the last. It 
is a long time since we have met with anything so exquisitely touching as 
the description of Eugen's life with his friend Helfen. It is an idyl of the 
purest and noblest simplicity." — The Standard. 

"A story of strong and deep interest, written by a vigorous and cultured 
writer., By such as have musical sympathies an added pleasure and delight 
will be felt." — The Dundee Advertiser. 

73 OLIVE VARCOE. 

By Mrs. Notley. 

" A sensational story with a substantial fund of interest. It is thoroughly 
exciting." — The Athenceum. 

" Among the pleasures of memory may be reckoned the impression left 
by a perusal of ' Olive Varcoe,' a story sufficiently powerful, picturesque, 
and original to raise hopes of still more excellent work to be achieved by 
the writer of it." — The St. James's Gazette. 

7* NELLIE'S MEMORIES. 

By EosA NouCHETTE Carey. 

' A pretty, quiet story of English life, free from sensation, without the 
shadow of a mystery, and written in a strain which is very pleasing. Miss 
Carey has the gift of writing naturally and simply, her pathos is unforced, 
and her conversations are sprightly." — The Standard. 

*' A very happily told domestic story which reminds us, in its minute 
and pleasant descriptions of family life, of Miss Bremer's tales." — The 
Evening Star. 

75 PROBATION. 

By Jessie Fothergill. 

** Altogether 'Probation ' is the most interesting novel we have read for 
some time. We closed the book with very real regret, and a feeling of the 
truest admiration for the power which directed and the spirit which inspired 
the writer, and with the determination, moreover, to make the acquaint- 
ance of her other stories." — The Spectator. 

" A noble and beautiful book which no one who has read is likely to 
forget." — The Manchester Examiner. 

'• Miss Fothergill writes charming stories."— T/<e Daily Netcs. 



i 



BENTLEYS' FAVOURITE NOVELS. 



77 SECOND THOUGHTS. 

By Bhoda Broughton. 

* * I love the romances of Miss Broughton ; I think them much truer to 
nature than Ouida's, and more impassioned than George Eliot's. Miss 
Broughton's heroines are living beings, having not only flesh and blood, 
but also esprit and soul ; in a word, they are real women, neither animals 
nor angels, but allied to both." — Andr^ Theuriet. 

83 NO RELATIONS. 

From the French of Hectob Malot. 

*' A fascinating story, written with unflagging force, and as full of 
genuine pathos as of graceful and delicate descriptions." — Blackwood' h 
Magazine. 

" How such a book would have charmed us in our youth ! how many 
half -hours we should have stolen to pore over the pages in which M. Malot 
has so glowingly depicted the dinnerless and supperless days of Remi and 
his master Vitalis, the owner of the performing dogs and monkey, once 
the famous singer Carlo Balzani, who, through loss of his voice, was obliged 
to retire from the gaze of the enraptured public. How we should have 
exulted in Remi's strokes of good luck ! how we should have wept with 
him when he wept 1 All this is left for many a happy boy to do who little 
knows what a treat is in store for him when he first opens the cover of 
' No Relations,' which, besides the tempting letterpress, contains endless 
illustrations of merit. It is likely to reach as many editions in England as 
it did in its birthplace, France." — The Whitehall Review. {Reprinting. 

85 KITH AND KIN. 

By Jessie Fotheegill. 

"Of 'Kith and Kin' it is not necessary to say more in the way of 
praise than that Miss Fothergill has not fallen below her own mark. None 
of her usual good materials are wanting. The characters affect us like real 
persons, and their troubles and their efforts interest us from the beginning 
to the end. We like the book very much." — The Pall Mall Gazette. 

"One of the finest English novels since the days of 'Jane Eyre.'" — 
The Manchester Examiner. 

88 MISUNDERSTOOD. 
By Florence Montgomeey. 

** Very touching and truthful." — Bishop Wilherforce's Diary. 
"This volume gives us what of all things is the most rare to find in 
contemporary literature — a true picture of child-life." — Vanity Fair. 

89 SEAFORTH. 

By Floeence Montgomeey. 

* * In the marvellous world of the pathetic conceptions of Dickens there 
is nothing more exquisitely touching than the loving, love-seeking, unloved 



12 BENTLEYS' FAVOURITE NOVELS. 

child, Florence Dombey. We pay Miss Montgomery the highest compli- 
ment within our reach when we say that in ' Seaforth ' she frequently 
suggests comparisons with what is at least one of the masterpieces of the 
greatest master of tenderness and humour which nineteenth-century fiction 
has known. ' Seaforth ' is a novel full of beauty, feeling, and interest. . . . 
There is plenty in the book that abundantly relieves the intense sadness of 
Joan's childhood, and the novel ends happily." — The World. 

" Miss Montgomery's charming novel. ... From page to page life-like 
pictures are brought vividly before the reader, in turns pathetic, gloomy, 
gay. There is cne scene especially worthy of remark — that in which Colin 
Fraser is entertained by Olive and her sister during Hester's absence. 
Their bold innocence and unconventional freedom required exceedingly 
delicate treatment ; but Miss Montgomery is more than equal to the task. 
She conveys to us, with the bloom untouched, her pure conception of 
Hester's charming daughters. Hester's is the finest and most finished 
character in the story ; indeed, it is admirable in every way. . . . The 
story is charmingly fresh and attractive, and everywhere it reveals remark- 
able powers of reflection and knowledge of human nature ; and the interest 
is always well sustained."— Pa^^ Mall Gazette. 



91 WOOED AND MARRIED. 

By Rosa Nouchette Caeey. 

"There is plenty of romance in the heroine's life. But it would not be 
fair to tell our readers wherein that romance consists or how it ends. Let 
them read the book for themselves, We will undertake to promise that 
they will like it." — The Standard. 

94 BARBARA HEATHCOTE'S TRIAL. 

By Rosa Nouchette Cabey. 

" Fresh, lively, and thanks to the skill with which the heroine's char- 
acter is drawn, really interesting." — The Athenceum. 

"A novel of a sort which does not appear too often in any one season, 
and which it would be real loss to miss." — The Daily Telegraph. 

*' The story is told by the author with a skilful fascination. If anything, 
' Barbara ' is better than ' Not Like Other Girls,' and all the girls know 
that it was very good." — The Philadelphia Times. 

97 LADY GRIZEL. 

By the Hon. Lewis Wingfield. 

" On putting down Thackeray's * Esmond ' we seem to come back sud- 
denly from the days of Queen Anne, and on closing * Lady Grizel ' one is 
almost tempted to believe that one has lived in the reign of George III." 
— The Morning Post. 

"A clever and powerful book. The author has cast back to a very 
terrible and a very difiicult historical period, and gives us a ghastly and 
vivid presentment of society as it was in Chatham's time. " — Vanity Fair, 



I 
I 



BENTLEYS' FAVOURITE NOVELS. 13 



99 IN A GLASS DARKLY. 

By Joseph Sheeidan Le Fanu. 

" Even * Uncle Silas,' being less concentrated, is less powerfully terrible 
than some tales in Sheridan Le Fann's ' In a Glass Darkly.' I'his book 
was long as rare as a first edition copy of * Le Malade Imaginaire.' Lately 
it has been reprinted in one volume by Mr. Bentley. It is impossible, un- 
happily, for an amateur of the horrible to remain long on friendly terms 
with anyone who is not charmed by ' In a Glass Darkly.' The eerie inven- 
tions of the author, the dreadful, deliberate, and unsparing calm with 
which he works them out, make him the master of all who ride the night- 
mare. Even Edgar Poe, even Jean Kichepin, came in but second and 
third to the author of 'In a Glass Darkly.' His ' Carmilla ' is the most 
frightful of vampires, the ' Dragon Volant ' the most gruesome of romances ; 
while 'A Tale of Green Tea' might frighten even Sir Wilfrid Lawson into 
a chastened devotion to claret or burgundy. No one need find Christmas 
nights too commonplace and darkness devoid of terrors if he keeps the 
right books of Le Fanu by his pillow. The author is dead, and beyond 
our gratitude. I cast lilies vainly upon bis tomb— e< munerefungor inani." 
— From a leading article in The Daily N'eivs. 

100 BELINDA. 

By Ehoda Beoughton. 

*' Miss Broughton's story 'Belinda' is admirably told, with the happiest 
humour, the closest and clearest character-sketching. Sarah is a gem — 
one of the truest, liveliest, and most amusing persons of modern fiction." 
—The World. 

101 ROBERT ORD'S ATONEMENT. 

By Rosa Nouchette Caeey. 

"A most delightful book, very quiet as to its story, but very strong in 
character, and instinctive with that delicate pathos which is the salient 
point of all the writings of this author." — The Standard. 

" Like the former novels from this pen that have had a wide popularity 
— among them 'Not Like Other Girls,' 'Queenie's Whim,' etc. — this story 
is of lively interest, strong in its situations, artistic in its character and 
local sketching, and charming in its love-scenes. Everybody that * loves a 
lover' will love this book." — The Boston Home Journal. 

104 BERNA BOYLE. 

By MeS. J. H. ElDDELL. 

" In ' Berna Boyle ' this very clever author has broken new ground. A 
more fiery, passionate, determined, and we must add, more uncomfortable 
lover than German Muir could hardly have been ' evolved out of the con- 
sciousness ' of Emily Bronte herself." — The Standard. 

"'Berna Boyle' is one of the best of Mrs. Riddell's novels; certainly 
the best I have read of hers since ' George Geith.' " — Truth. 



14 BENTLEYS' FAVOURITE NOVELS. 

106 NEAR NEIGHBOUKS. 

By Feances M. Peard. 

" The home life of the Dutch, 
Sketched with eloquent touch, 
Forms the scene of Miss Peard's latest labours. 
And the story is such 
That you'll find there is much 
To like in her pleasant 'Near Neighbours.' " 

Punch, 

'• We may say at once without hesitation that ' Near Neighbours ' is an 
excellent novel. It is a story of modern life in the Netherlands, and it 
reminds one of a gallery of Dutch pictures without their coarseness. "-- 
The Saturday Review. 

108 NOT LIKE OTHER GIRLS. 

By Rosa Nouchette Caeey. 

" The three heroines are quite delightful, and their mother, an excellent 
person with irreproachable manners and a heart of gold, is also good. 
Phillis, the second daughter, the brain of the family, is as natural as 
amusing, and as generally satisfactory a young woman as we have met 
with in fiction for a long time." — The. Academy. 

** We have a specially grateful recollection of this story: — the author's 
masterpiece." — John Bull. 

"The story is one of the sweetest, daintiest, and most interesting of the 
season's publications. Three young girls find themselves penniless, and 
their mother has delicate health. This story relates, in a charming fashion, 
how they earned their bread and kept themselves together, and they left 
upon the field of strife neither dead nor wounded." — The New York Home 
Journal. 



109 GEORGE GEITH OF FEN COURT. 

By MeS. J. H. RiDDELL. 

*' Earely have we seen an abler work than this, or one which more 
vigorously interests us in the principal characters of its most fascinating 
story." — The Times. 

" The author carries the reader with her from the first page to the last. 
And of all the girls we can call to mind in recent novels we scarcely know 
one that pleases us like Beryl. She is so fresh, so bright, so tender- 
hearted, so charming, even for her faults, that we fall in love with her 
almost at first sight. Tl)e subordinate characters are sketched with great 
felicity, and considerable skill is displayed in the construction of the plot. 
We like, too, the thoughts, pithily and eloquently expressed, which are 
scattered throughout the volume." — The Fortnightly Review. 



BENTLEY^' FAVOURITE NOVELS. 15 

110 A GIRTON GIRL. 

By Mes. Annie Edwardes. 

" Mrs. Edwardes is one of the cleverest of living lady novelists. She 
has a piquancy of style and an originality of view which are very refresh- 
ing after the dreary inanities of many of her own sex. The novel is 
throughout most enjoyable reading, and in parts distinctly brilliant." — 
The Academy. 

"One of the best and brightest novels with which the world has been 
favoured for a very long time is * A Girton Girl.' All the characters talk 
brightly and epigrammatically, and tell their own stories in their lively 
conversation," — The Lady. 

" Mrs. Edwardes tells a story which is full of subtle observation, bene- 
volent sarcasm, and irresistible brightness." — The Morning Post. 

112 A BACHELOR'S BLUNDER. 

By W. E. NoEEis. 

" We have endeavoured in noticing some previous books of this author 
to express our high appreciation of his graphic powers and his right to be 
reckoned one of the leading English novelists — one who has been com- 
pared to Thackeray in reference to his delicate humour and his ready 
seizure of the foibles as well as the virtues of mankind, and to Anthony 
Trollope in a certain minuteness of finish in the depicting of people and of 
scenes. This story of a natural and unsophisticated girl in the midst of 
the intense worldliness of modern English society, and of a marriage de- 
liberately viewed in advance and by both parties as one entirely of con- 
venance, affoi'ds an excellent field for his characteristic modes of treat- 
ment." — The Boston Literary World. 

" Exceedingly good reading, as Mr. Norris's novels nearly always are. 
The situation is original, which is a rare merit." — The Guardian. 

" Three more indiscreet lovers never scattered thorns upon the path of a 
maiden than those whose machinations Mr. W. E. Norris has unfolded in 
' A Bachelor's Blunder.' " — The Daily Telegraph. 

113 WEE WIFIE. 

By Rosa Nouchette Caeey. 

" Miss Cdrey is one of our especial favourites. She has a great gift of 
describing pleasant and lovable young ladies." — John Bull. 

" Miss Carey's novels are always welcome ; they are out of the common 
run, immaculately pure, and very high in tone." — The Lady. 

115 ' DOCTOR CUPID. 

By Rhoda Beoughton. 

•* Miss Broughton has so many thousands of admirers scattered up and 
down the kingdom that all the editions of her novels are always eagerly 
snapped up." — The London Figaro. 



BENTLEYS' FAVOURITE NOVELS. 



" * Doctor Oupid ' is a very clever book, aiwi bily'jttst escapes being a 
beautiful one. It is certainly the best book that Miss Broughton has yet 
written." — The Spectator. 

* ' Miss Broughton's new novel is likely to have an even greater vogue 
than any of its predecessors. It has elements both of humour and of 
pathos, and once taken up will retain the attention of the reader to the 
close." — The Globe. 

" Bright and full of movement as are usually Miss Broughton's novels, 
few, if any of them, have attained the degree of pathos which gives an 
especial charm to her latest work, * Doctor Cupid.' " — The Morning Post. 

** The freshness of her creations is one of their most potent spells, and 
she is a capital hand at what, for lack of a better term, is usually called a 
character sketch." — The Lady. ' 

116 BORDERLAND. 

By- Jessie Fotheegill. 

"The scene is laid in and around Barnard Castle, and the story gains all 
the charm of the picturesque which Miss Fothergill knows well how to 
use." — The Athenaeum. 

" Miss Fothergill is one of those novelists whose books we always open 
with assured expectation, and never close with disappointment. We do 
not say that the quality of excellence is a characteristic of her achieve- 
ment ; she is too much a writer of genius as distinguished from a writer of 
talent to work upon a dead level.. In all her work we find the unmis- 
takable touch of mastery, the imaginative grasp of the creator, not the 
mere craftsmanship of the constructor, 'the vision and the faculty divine' 
which displays itself in substance and not in form. . . . ' Borderland ' is 
certain to be enjoyed for its own sake as a story full of the strongest 
human interest, told with consummate literary skill." — The Manchester 
Examiner. 

118 UNCLE MAX. 

By Rosa Nouchette Cabey. 

' In this book Miss Carey has made a very distinct advance ; she has 
cleverly allowed a wicked, selfish, mischief -making woman to reveal herself 
by her own words and acts — a very different thing to describing her and 
her machinations from outside. Villains and their feminine counterparts 
are not characters in which she usually deals, for she sees the best side of 
human nature. She has made an interesting addition to current fiction, 
and it is so intrinsically good that the world of novel readers ought to be 
genuinely grateful." — The Lady. 

ii» MAJOR AND MINOR. 

By W. E. NoERis. 

" The author's fidelity of analysis throughout this clever book is remark- 
able. As a rule he here deals with ordinar)'- sentiments, but the more com- 
plicated characters of Gilbert Segrave and Miss Huntley are drawn with 
the subtle touch of the accomplished artist. These merits are familiar to 
the readers of Mr. Norris's former works, but in none of these is to be 



BENT'LEYS' FAVOURITE NOVELS. ' 17 

found a vein of sucli g^ufee humour as in * Major and Minor.' The irre- 
pressible contractor Buswell, Mr. Dubbiw, and the fgiir Miss Julia, whose 
admiration for poor Brian lands him in a more than awkward dilemma, 
are each and all as life-like as they are diverting. In this, his latest book, 
Mr. Norris remains ihe elegant and slightly caustic writer he has ever 
been, while his knowledge of the world and sympathy with human nature 
have become wider and more real." — The Morning Post. 

121 FICKLE FORTUNE. 
From the German of B. Weenee. 

*' A fascinating story." — The St. James's Gazette. 

" Werner has established her claim to rank with those very few writers 
whose works are, or should be, matters of interest to all readers of cultiva- 
tion throughout Europe." — The Graphic. 

" The tale partly resembles that of Komeo and Juliet, in so far as the 
hero and heroine fall in love almost at first sight, and discover that they 
belong to families which are at deadly feud, but such deadly feud as can 
be carried on by means of lawyers and lawsuits.. The style of writing is 
excellent, of the easy, lucid, vivacious sort, which never induces weariness, 
and scarcely allows time for a pause." — The Illustrated London News. 

"Werner is seen to the greatest advantage in those portions of the 
narrative which appeal to the graver feelings ; nothing could of its kind 
be better than the interview between Oswald and his unsuspecting cousin 
after the former had become aware of the treachery which deprived him of 
his right." — The Morning Post. "^ 

122 ONLY THE GOVERNESS. 

By Rosa Nouchette Caeey. 

*' This novel is for those who like stories with something of Jane 
Austen's power, but with more intensity of feeling than Jane Austen 
displayed, who are not inclined to call pathos twaddle, and who care to see 
life and human nature in their most beautiful form." — The Pall Mall 
Gazette. 

" One of the sweetest and pleasantest of Miss Carey's bright wholesome 
domestic stories." — The Lady. 

"Miss Rosa Nouchette Carey's novel 'Only the Governess' is an 
exceedingly pleasant story, and likely to be very popular." — The Queen. 

124 QUEENIE'S WHIM. 

By Rosa Nouchette Caeey. 

*' It is pleasant to be able to place at the head of our notice such a 
thoroughly good and wholesome story as ' Queenie's Whim.' The plot is 
very simple, and shows how fair and beautiful a web may be woven by skill 
and art out of the slightest materials. It is almost impossible to lay the 
book down without ascertaining what happens to Queenie. Perhaps the 
subtle charm of the tale lies as much in the delicate but firm touch with 
which the characters are drawn as in the clever management of the story." 
— The Guardian. 

"Miss Carey's novel is one which will be read with pleasure." — The 
Morning Post. 



i8 BENTLEYS' FAVOURITE NOVELS. 



127 SIE CHARLES DANVERS. 

By Mary Cholmondeley. 

"Novels so amusing, so brightly written, so full of simple sense and 
witty observation as * Sir Charles Danvers ' are not found every day. It is 
a charming love story, lightened up on all sides by the humorous, genial 
character sketches." — 1'he Saturday Review. 

" ' Sir Charles Danvers ' is really a delightful book. Sir Charles is 
one of the most fascinating, one of the wittiest figures that advance to 
greet us from the pages of contemporary fiction. We met him with keen 
pleasure and parted from him with keen regret." — The Daily News. 

128 MISS SHAFTO. 
By W. E. NoEEis. 

'• The books of Mr. Norris are worth reading, because he has a charming 
manner of his own which is rendered recognisable not by eccentricity of 
whim, but by a wholesome artistic individuality. One does not nowadays 
often read a fresher, brighter, cleverer book than 'Miss Shafto.'" — The 
Academy. 

" Thanks to dialogues that are crisp and clever, and to a sense of humour 
that is as keen as it is refined, the book may well be laid down with regret. 
' Miss Shafto ' is that each day rarer production, a society story which is 
neither flippant nor coarse." — The Morning Post. 

129 HERIOT'S CHOICE. 
By Rosa Nouchette Caeey. 

"Everyone should read 'Heriot's Choice.' It is thoroughly fresh, 
healthy, and invigorating, acting like a tonic on the system after it has 
been debilitated by the usual three-volume course of novels. The book 
should be in the hands of every girl." — The York House Papers. 

*' ' Heriot's Choice ' deserves to be extensively known and read. It is a 
bright, wholesome story of a quiet but thoroughly interesting class, and as 
such will doubtless find as many admirers as readers." — llie Morning Post. 

"An extremely pretty and well- written novel. The reader's interest 
is never permitted to flag for an instant." — Standard. 

* * Heriot's Choice ' is a well and carefully written story of domestic 
life, and the character of the principal heroine is that of a noble-minded 
woman."— Myra's Journal. 

130 BETWEEN THE HEATHER AND THE 

NORTHERN SEA. 
By Maey Linskill (" Stephen Yoeke"). 

** A remarkable book, the work of a woman whose preparation for 
writing has been her communion with books and nature. This intimacy 
is wide and apparent. Shakespeare, Milton, Keats, Shelley, Kingsley, 
Carlyle, Browning, Tennyson, and many more are constantly supplying 
illustration. The beautiful mottoes to the chapters would make up a 



BENTLEYS' FAVOURITE NOVELS. 19 

choice extract book, and the very names of them are quotations. Her 
familiarity with nature is as evident as that with books. The grandest 
passage in the story describes with wonderful vividness and with subtle 
delicacy the shifting scenes of a great sea storm— we wish we could quote 
.it, but it must not be mutilated — and the aspects of the wild high moor- 
lands ; the lonely, desolate, and reedy marshes ; the rare bits of cornland, 
the sheltered orchard, whether by night or day, in winter or in summer, or 
in lovely cheerful spring, in the storm or in the sunshine — all these aspects 
of nature on the Yorkshire moors and on its dangerous shores are sketched 
with the same perfect knowledge, the same fine perception of minute 
differences and changes, and the same sense of beauty." — The Spectator. 

" The scent of the heather seems to pervade these pages, so graphic is 
the picture of rustic life that they contain." — The Morning Post. 

"All who have made acquaintance with the healthy, truthful descrip- 
tions of Yorkshire scenes and characters penned by Mary Linskill may be 
prepared for such a treat as will assuredly not baffle expectation. The 
work is in an eminent degree fresh and forcible. Its freshness rests upon 
olden foundations, its force comes from gentleness. No one can doubt 
who reads the epilogue to this truly dramatic poem of prose-humanity that 
the author was moved throughout by a wondering experience of the fulness 
of life, such as she quaintly and tenderly expresses in the speech of her 
hero and heroine." — The Daily Telegraph. 



132 ALAS ! 

By Ehoda Broughton. 

" In this novel the author strikes, perhaps, a deeper and truer note of 
human sympathy than has been audible in any other of her fictions. The 
interest is not only well maintained, but wholesome and edifying." — The 
Glohe.^ 

"Miss Broughton is as vivacious and readable as usual." — The Daily 
Telegraph. 

'* Apart from the interest of the plot, * Alas !' is full of bright word- 
pictures of Florence and Algiers, and of a pleasant and cultivated appre- 
ciation of their beauties which lend an additional merit to its pages." — The 
Morning Post. 

133 ALDYTH. 

By Jessie Fothekgill. 

" A reprint of a touching story of self-sacrifice and abnegation which 
first appeared fifteen years ago, and was the forerunner of its gifted 
author's longer and more important novels." — The Daily Telegraph. 

"This charming story has been out of print for several years. It is far 
better than many a modern novel which is eagerly devoured, and its re- 
publication cannot fail to extend the circle of this talented author's readers. 
The story, we need hardly say, is full of interest, and the characters are 
well delineated." — Manchester Examiner. 

'* It is curious that this, which is quite the most interesting of the late 
Miss Fothergill's novels, should also be quite the least known. Its republica- 
tion is very welcome, and there can be no doubt that, if it were as well known, 



20 BENTLEYS' FAVOURITE NOVELS. 

it would be more widely appreciated than any of Miss Fothergill's books. 
... The character of Aldyth's sister Caroline is a very clever specimen of 
Miss Fothergill's art, and one that will compare favourably with any of 
the longer and more important of that writer's works." — The Observer. 

134 MARY ST. JOHN. 

By Rosa Nouchette Caeey. 

" It is pleasant to turn from the unwholesome atmosphere into which we 
have been introduced to the pure fresh air which blows through ' Mary St. 
John.' This is a tale of true love, of self-sacrifice, of loyalty and unselfish- 
ness which is a welcome relief from affected cynicism and unhealthy 
passion. The story is a simple one, but told with much grace and with 
unaffected pathos. Perhaps those readers whose fount of tears lies some- 
what close to their eyes ought to be warned against it as likely to make too 
large a demand upon their sympathies ; but the ordinary reader who does 
not mind being a little affected with that melancholy of which the charm 
has been sung by an English poet, will find it well worthy of perusal. We 
are not ashamed to confess that we have ourselves followed the simple and 
unaffected narrative with an interest and a pleasure which other more 
exciting and sensational works have failed to arouse in us. The heroine 
herself is a noble woman, and it is with a sensation of relief that we find 
her rewarded in the end for the self-sacrifice which is forced upon her. 
Dollie Maynard, too, is a fascinating young personage, and the way in 
which she gradually awakens to the merits of her somewhat grave and old- 
fashioned lover is charmingly depicted. But the most striking and 
original portrait in the book is that of Janet St. John, the sister-in-law of 
the heroine, and wife of Maurice St. John, the hard-working East-end 
clergyman. This is, indeed, a masterpiece ; and the handsome, worldly 
woman, so hard of heart in every respect except her love for her husband 
and her youngest child, must take rank among the few new creations of 
the modern novelist." — John Bull. 

133 AN OLD MAID'S LOVE. 

By Maakten Maabtens. 

" Bears the impress of undeniable and original talent." — The Morning 
Post. 

" As a description of Dutch life it is a masterpiece."— froma?i. 

" A story that holds the reader's interest throughout." — Observer. 

" A very engrossing romance. There are a dozen carefully drawn 
characters, all of them conscientiously worked out." — Athenoeum. 

" Mr. Maartens writes vigorously in * An Old Maid's Love,' and with 
life-like fidelity to nature. The novel is strong both in humour and 
pathos. ' ' — A cademy. 

" To read ' An Old Maid's Love ' is a real pleasure, and one which does 
not evaporate when the last page has been turned." — The Graphic. 

" * An Old Maid's Love ' is of a far higher type than the ordinary run of 
works of fiction, and very nearly approaches the offspring of genius. A 
more exciting book and one more full of incident may every day be met 
with, but to the thoughtful reader this novel will be infinitely more attrac- 
tive. " — Vanity Fair. 



BENTLEYS' FA VO URITE NO VELS. 2 1 

137 THE HAVEN UNDER THE HILL. 

By Maey Linskill. 

"Miss Linskill's unique romance, * The Haven under the Hill,' is a 
marvellously minute and realistic picture of life in North Yorkshire. The 
story is just the simple one of a young girl's life, ambitions, and death, but 
it is told as the author of ' Between the Heather and the Northern Sea ' 
alone can tell a story. Her work is of high artistic value, more delicately 
faithful to the truth of nature, and strong in learning, than highly 
coloured or attractive to every eye, but warranted to live when the grue- 
some murders and realisms of to-day have sunk into oblivion, and have 
served their purpose of amusing or terrifying a wasted half-hour. In 
years to come people will turn to Miss Linskill's books, as they do to 
Thackeray's and George Eliot's, and turn to them again, ever to find fresh 
food for reflection and study in the passages which she paints like an artist 
with word-pictures of exquisite and cultivated humour, of admirably true 
and never overwrought human pathos. . . . Dorigen (the heroine), a 
dreamy, thoughtful child, blossoms out into a woman of learning, refinement, 
and a grand nature. ... It would be impertinent to compliment such an 
author on producing such a book, but its advent is too rare an excellence 
to pass without words of grateful acknowledgment." — Whitehall Review. 

" No more vivid and powerful sketches of shipwreck are to be found in 
the whole extent of English literature. . . . The delineation of the inner 
life of the heroine is remarkable for subtle insight, and unites delicacy 
with strength in a wonderful degree. What a wealth of beautiful sayings, 
often phrased with the crisp felicity of apophthegms, sparkle in Miss 
Linskill's story !" — Christian Leader. 



138 THE SIN OF JOOST AVELINGH. 

By Maaeten Maaetens. 

" A masterly treatment of a situation that has an inexhaustible fasci- 
nation for novelists, but which very few are strong enough to treat 
worthily. An admirable novel." — 2%e Guardian. 

"If any great number of Dutch writers are producing work equal to 
Maartens' novel, our insular ignorance is a thing to be deplored. It is a 
book by a man who has in him a vein of genuine genius, a true artist. . . . 
The reader will feel that he is making the acquaintance of a work of 
singular freshness and power." —The Academy. 

"Unmistakably good. Vigorous and well-defined character sketches 
faithful pictures of life, a cleverly written story." — The Morning Post. 

*' It was reserved for the author of this story to give a new interest to 
the crime of murder as a source of fiction. The work is so good that it 
will doubtless find many readers here." — The Scotsman. 

' ' Can honestly be recommended to readers whether with consciences or 
without." — James Payn in the Illustrated London News. 

"A singularly powerful and original study, and full of pathos." — The 
Graphic. 



22 BENTLEYS' FAVOURITE NOVELS. 

139 IN EXCHANGE FOR A SOUL. 

By Mary Linskill. 

" The central figure of the tale is the beautiful fisher-girl, Barbara 
Burdas. . . . She has the self-restraint, the quiet courage, of the Puritan 
heroines of old. . . . From first to last she is an original as well as fasci- 
nating creation." — The Morning Post. 

*' The writer evidently enjoys beautiful thoughts, and has the power of 
conceiving characters in accordance therewith." — St. James's Gazette. 



140 MRS. BLIGH. 

By Rhoda Beoughton. 

"No one of Miss Broughton's stories has given us so much pleasure as 
this ; not even ' Nancy,' which is probably her best ; not even ' Doctor 
Cupid,' which is no doubt the most interesting of her novels. Rhoda 
Broughton still takes the form of an analysis of woman's feelings, and her 
greatest successes have been achieved where she has clearly outlined the 
woman's character, and then limited the rest of the story to circumstances 
which tend to illustrate that character. In her latest novel she has been 
truer to this principle than in any other of her works, and it is this quality 
which makes us say ' Mrs. Bligh ' will give more pleasure than any other 
of the series. The book is a truer picture of woman's love, of her sacrifice 
of it to a girl, and of the woman's only possible reward, than any Miss 
Broughton has yet given us. Time, practice, and a sense of literary art 
have produced in her a form of skill in writing which is apparent upon 
every page of her new story. How the story is worked out Miss Broughton's 
readers will see for themselves, and we repeat that she has given them a 
novel more worthy of remembrance than any she has yet written." — The 
Pall Mall Gazette. 



i« CLEVEDEN. 

By Mary Linskill (" Stephen Yorke "). 

"The heroine's story is told, and her character drawn with much 
delicacy of touch, and our sympathy is powerfully enlisted for the timid 
and affectionate nature that leans upon love, and the religiousness, vague 
but strong, that bears her through all the dreariness of her desertion by 
her first lover, and the trust and dependence that drew her gradually 
towards the less fascinating, but far deeper and stronger nature of the man 
who becomes her husband. Stephen Yorke's sketches of dale scenery are 
beautiful, and clearly the work of one who not only knows them intimately 
and loves them dt^arly, but whose tasteful and poetic feeling can appreciate 
the minuter delicacies of varying seasons and weather, and can gather 
from Nature iu all her aspects her deeper and higher meanings." — The 
Spectator. 



BENTLEYS' FAVOURITE NOVELS. 23 



1*2 FOR LILIAS. 

By Rosa Nouchette Caeey. 

" The materials from which the story has been constructed have been 
managed, not only with exceedingly delicate and tender handling, but with 
such unusual ingenuity and fertility of resource, that the result is a novel 
which not only abounds in graceful and touching passages, but may be 
fairly said to possess the merit of originality. All the characters are 
excellently drawn, with strong strokes and in decided outlines, yet always 
with the utmost delicacy and refinement of touch." — The Gvardian. 

"The story is decidedly interesting, especially as it is impossible to 
foresee at any given point what will follow — an increasingly rare 
phenomenon. The novel is well written and the various characters well 
described." — The Graphic. 

143 • AUNT ANNE. 

By Mrs. W. K. Clifford. 

" Mrs. Clifford has achieved a success of a very unusual and remarkable 
kind in this book. She has had the extreme daring to take for the subject 
of her story the romance of an old woman, and to fill her canvas with this 
one figure. . . . She and her treatment are quite original and new. She 
is often laughable, but always touching ; her little figure is full of an old- 
fashioned grace, though grace combined with oddity ; her sense of her 
' position,' her susceptibilities in that respect, her boundless generosity, 
are always delightful. Indeed, we do not know when we have met with 
a more loving and recognisable, as well as attractive personage in fiction." 
— The Spectator. 

*' One of the most memorable creations of modern fiction. The character 
of Aunt Anne is not a mere tour de force. It is one of those — one is 
almost tempted to say immortal — creations whose truth mingles so 
insistently with its charm in every touch that it is hard to say whether 
it is its truth which makes the charm or the charm which persuades you 
into believing in its truth." — The Sunday Sun. 

145 TALES OF THE NORTH RIDING. 

By Mary Linskill. 

"If Miss Linskill had written only her fine 'Tales of the North 
Riding,' they would have been sufficient to fix her title of Novelist of the 
North. Her characters are portraits of northern folk, as they who have 
lived among them will recognise, and her scenery is precisely what one's 
memory recalls." — The Sheffield Daily Telegraph. 

" What Mr. Hardy is to the Wessex country, Mary Linskill might have 
become to the North Riding of Yorkshire, had her life been spared a little 
longer. The ' Tales of the North Riding ' give many evidences of her real 
ability, and, in the second story, 'Theo's Escape,' Miss Linskill rises to the 
level of her best novel, and in it she displays the strongly artistic faculty 
which is never absent from any of her books." — The Manchester Examiner. 



24 BENTLEYS' FAVOURITE NOVELS. 



1*6 GOD'S FOOL. 

By Maaeten Maaetens. 

"The story of Elias, God's Fool, is in some respects beautiful, in all 
curious, and thickset with gems of thought. The picture of the creature 
with the clouded brain, the missing senses, the pure and holy soul, and the 
unerring sense of right, living in his deafness and darkness by the light 
and the law of love, is a very fine concepti(m, and its contrast with the 
meanness and wickedness of his surroundings is worked out with high 
SiYt."—The World. 

"A very interesting and charming story. Elias Lossell only became 
a fool gradually, as the result of an accident which happened to him in 
early youth. Gradually the light of this world's wisdom died out for him ; 
gradually the light of God's wisdom dawns and develops in him. The 
way these two lights are opposed and yet harmonized is one of the most 
striking features of the book. As a subtle study of unusual and yet 
perfectly legitimate combination of effect, it is quite first-ratf^." — The 
Guardian. 

1^7 LOYER OR FRIEND ? 

By Rosa Nouchette Caeey. 

"The refinement of style and delicacy of thought will make 'Lover or 
Friend ?' popular with all readers who are not too deeply bitten with a 
desire for things improbable in their lighter literature." — The Guardian. 

" It is a good novel, of the home-life, family-gossip class, in the produc- 
tion of which lady writers specially excel. . . . This is a sensibly and 
skilfully written book, and the situations at the end show a good deal of 
dramatic power." — The Pall Mall Gazette. 

" Written with all that delicate charm of style which invariably makes 
this writer's works pleasant reading. No one could say they are ever dull 
or commonplace." — The Academy. 



1*8 FROM MOOR ISLES. 

By Jessie Fotheegill. 

" ' From Moor Isles ' is much above the average, and may be read with 
a considerable amount of pleasure, containing, as it does, many vigorous 
and affecting passages." — The Globe. 

"The sketches of North-country life are true and healthy." — The 
Athenaeum. 

" Miss Fothergill has written another of her charming stories, as charm- 
ing as 'The First Violin.' 'From Moor Isles' will distinctly add to 
Miss Fothergill's reputation as one of the pleasantest of our lady novelists." 
— 2' he Fall Mall Gazette. 



BENTLEYS' FAVOURITE NOVELS. 25 

1^9 A BEGINNER. 

By Rhoda Beoughton. 

" We expect to be amused by Miss Broughton, but we do not think that 
for a long time past we have been so much exhilarated by any book of hers 
as by * A Beginner,' " — The Saturday Review. 

" As bright, vivacious, and full of go as are all its predecessors from the 
same highly-skilled pen. It is not without a certain pathos, too." — The 
Daily Chronicle. 

** Karely has Miss Broughton shown the humorous side of her genius to 
better advantage than in this book. The characters are cleverly and 
artistically drawn, and the satire is genuinely amusing." — Vanity Fair. 

''' DIANA TEMPEST. 

By Mary Cholmondeley. 

" * Diana Tempest * is a book to be read. It is more — it is a book to be 
kept and read again, for its characters will not pass into limbo with this 
year's fashions. It will stand in the front ranks of fiction for some time 
to come." — The St. James's Gazette. 

*' In this charming book are combined all the qualities that are essential 
to completeness in a model work of fiction." — The Daily Telegraph. 

"Miss Cholmondeley writes with a brightness which is in itself delight- 
ful. . . . Let everyone who can enjo}' an excellent novel, full of humour, 
touched with real pathos, and written with finished taste and skill, read 
'Diana Tempest.' " — The Athenaeum. 

"A novel conspicuous above all for the originality, boldness, and neatly- 
fitted ingenuity of a plot of classic directness and simplicity." — 7'Ae World. 

" Of Miss Cholmondeley's clever novels, ' Diana Tempest ' is quite the 
cleverest. The literary workmanship is decidedly good. . . . Miss 
Cholmondeley's flashes of wit and wisdom are neither few nor far between.' 
— The Times. 

1'^'^ THE GREATER GLORY. 

By Maaeten Maaetens. 

"The name of Maarten Maartens is becoming — indeed, it has already 
become— one of the most important and significant names in the literature 
of contemporary fiction. . . . We could point to scenes and situations of 
exceptional power and beauty, but we leave them to the many who, we 
hope, will read this admirable and striking novel." — The Spectator. 

"'The Greater Glory' is a strangely beautiful book; but its greatest 
charm is not in any one scene, it is the gradual evolution of beauty out of 
beauty till the climax is reached in the ' greater glory ' of the old baron's 
death-bed." — The Guardian. 

" It would be difficult to conceive figures more touching than those of 
the old Baron and Baroness Rexelaer, nor, in a different way, than the pair 
of young lovers, Reinout and Wendela, charming creations of a poetic 
fancy." — The Morning Post. 



26 BENTLEYS' FAVOURITE NOVELS. 

1^2 BASIL LYNDHURST. 

By Eosa Nouchette Caeey. 

" Every character is sketched with care and delicacy, and the style is 
excellent throughout and thoroughly healthy. There are some very pretty 
touches, too, in the scenes between the brother and sister, and there is real 
pathos in the sketch of the unhappy, ill-fated Aline." — The Guardian. 

" Miss Carey's pathetic story turns upon a country honse in whose life 
and inmates we come to feel an almost painful interest. We doubt 
whether anything has been written of late years so fresh, so pretty, so 
thoroughly natural and bright. The novel as a whole is charming. 
Tenderness is pourtrayed without the suspicion of s'ckly sentiment, and 
the simple becomes heroic without any sense of effort or unreality."— 7V<e 
Pall Mall Gazette. 

i'^3 MY LADY NOBODY. 

By Maakten Maartens. 

" Like the rest of Maarten Maartens's novels * My Lady Nobody ' is a 
genuine book. In construction it is perhaps the best the author has yet 
given us. It has the striking characteristics of the books which have 
given him a world-wide reputation." — The Daily Chronicle. 

* ' It would be easy to cull many clever sayings from any of Maarten 
Maartens's novels. They are the more plentiful because he endows all his 
characters with epigram." — Realm. 

" The name of Maarten Maartens has become a household word among 
lovers of literature, as it is embodied in fiction. This last book takes its 
place in the forefront of contemporary fiction. The power of the master 
is seen in every page ; the delicate psychological instinct is evident in 
every character ; a dainty humour plays about the deep teaching of the 
situations, and we never lose sight of the artist from the first page to the 
last." — Woman's Sifjnal. 

"A book to be read. It is interesting as a story, admirable as a study 
of Dutch character, and it is instinct with spiritual intention. Mr. 
Maarten Maartens is one of the most interesting personalities among con- 
temporary writers of fiction. His work is individual in its simplicity and 
significance, its blend of quaintness, and elevation of sentiment. It has all 
the high finish of Dutch art, and its luminousness of eRect."— Daily Neu'S. 

"Maarten Maartens has taken us all by storm." — Neio York Herald. 

" The student of contemporary literature knows that every product of 
the pen of this man will be worth reading. He occupies a p'ace among 
the foremost of living authors." — Boston Times. 

" Maarten Maartens is a Dutchman who has suddenly revealed himself 
to the world as a psychologist of the first rank." — BihlioiMque Universelle. 

* ' Maarten Maartens has suddenly taken his place in the foremost rank 
of English novelists." — Neue Freie Presse, Vienna. 

"Absolutely certain of success." — Blatter fur lifer. Unterhaltung, 
Berlin. 

"The literary reputation of Maarten Maartens is an established fact."~ 
Saturday Review. 

** Maarten Maartens is an author who deserves, and is sure to obtain, 
European celebrity." — Westminster Review. 



BENTLEYS' FAVOURITE NOVELS. 27 



15* SCYLLA OR CHARYBDIS? 

By Rhoda Broughton. 

*' There is a great deal of breezy, humourous dialogue, and some amusing 
situations and characterization, while the pathos in other parts is sympa- 
thetic and true." — Literary World. 

"An exceeding tragic story ; the point of highest intensity is led up to 
with consummate skill, and there is no anti -climax." — Daily Chronicle. 

" The novel is lively and witty as a matter of course. If it is not quite 
so full of the joy of youth as some of the writer's earlier stories, there is, 
by way of compensation, a vein of real tragedy behind its excellent 
comedy. It ha?, moreover, a well-devised plot and a seemingly hopeless 
situation. " — Standard. 

'* This fine story, finely wrought, of deep human interest, with many of 
those slight side-touches of observation and humour of the kind for which 
we look in a story by Miss Broughton, is so carefully and so skilfully con- 
structed as to distance its predecessors." — World. 

" A new volume from the pen of Miss Rhoda Broughton is a godsend. 
She is sometimes moral, never didactic ; sometimes sentimental, never 
gushing, and always entertaining. Her art is unique, it is not old- 
fashioned ; neither does it appeal to the transient humours of a clique. 
The question of literary fashion does not affect anything so universal, 
sympathetic and so human." — The Illustrated London News. 

" The book, with its amusing audacities of style, its dash of cynicism, 
its 'go' and poetic descriptive passages, is a good Rhoda Broughton." — 
Daily News. 

" As good as anything that this delightf al author has written. * Scylla 
or Chary bdis ' is in fact emphatically a book to read, and we fancy it will 
surprise many people by the depth and tenderness of its feeling." — 
Manchester Guardian. 



156 THE MADONNA OF A DAY. 

By Lily Dougall. 

" Remarkably clever and original." — Lady's Pictorial. 

" Miss Dougall is among the cleverest of the younger, novelists." — 
Observer. 

"The adventures of the heroine are strangely exciting and original." — 
Isle of Wight Guardian. 

"Miss L. Dougall's 'The Madonna of a Day' is the brightest and 
cleverest novel she has yet written. The idea is original and interesting, 
the characterization is firm and convincing, and the style is undeniably 
effective." — Daily Telegraph. 

" From an entirely new standpoint, and with a subtlety all its own ; it 
lights up one aspect of the great, vexed, unsettled, unsettleable woman 
question ; and all this with a charm of style, and a power of realizing and 
presenting a scene or a character, which grow stronger with each book 
Miss Dougall produces." — Academy. 



28 ■ BENTLEYS' FAVOURITE NOVELS. 

" A charming bit of work, full of distinction and subtlety of feeling." — 
Manchester Guardian. 

" The local colouring and descriptive portions of the tale are undeniably 
good, and add much to the realistic tone and genuine attractiveness of a 
novel that it is hard to put down until the very last page is reached." — 
Observer. 



155 SIR GODFREY'S GRAND-DAUGHTERS. 
By Rosa Nouchette Caeey. 

" Out of very slender and almost commonplace materials the author has 
produced a capital story. The interest steadily grows, and by the time 
one reaches the third volume the story has become enthralling. The book 
is well worth reading, and will increase Miss Carey's already high reputa- 
tion." — Observer. 

" Certainly one of the pleasantest of recent contributi<ms to domestic 
fiction ; it is not lacking in humour, and there are passages of true and 
unstrained pathos." — Academy. 

" Miss Carey's novels are well written, and offer very natural sketches 
of the quiet life with which they deal." — Morning Post. 

" As a work of fiction, we must confess to have read * Sir Godfrey's 
Grand- daughters ' with far greater enjoyment than has attended our 
perusal of other novels of the same order for some time past." — Daily 
Telegraph. 

"'Sir Godfrey's Grand- daughters ' is charmingly written, and will 
please readers who like their fiction sentimental and optimistic rather than 
realistic." — Daily News. 



157 THE MISTRESS OF BRAE FARM. 

By Rosa Nouchette Caeey. 

" * The Mistress of Brae Farm ' is one of the best novels now before the 
public, whether as regards its beautiful but quite unpriggish moral tone, 
its careful and convincing characterization, or its accurate delineation of 
certain phases of provincial life." — County Gentleman. 

" Miss Carey is most minute in her analysis of the motives which influ- 
ence the actions of her personages, and her delineations of character, 
especially the female, are delicate, refined, and finished." — Ashton 
Reporter. 

*' * The Mistress of Brae Farm ' is, without doubt, as interesting and of as 
high a character as could be desired by the most captious critic." — Western 
Mail. 



BENTLEYS' FAVOURITE NOVELS. 



^9 



158 



^ DEAR FAUSTINA; 
By Rhoda Beoughton. 



TJIU ONLY COMPLETE EDITIONS OF JANE A USTEN'S WORKS 
ARE THOSE CONTAINED IN THIS SERIES. 



SENSE AND SENSIBILITY. 

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. 

EMMA. 

LADY SUSAN. 



MANSFIELD PARK. 
NORTHANGER ABBEY. 
PERSUASION. 
THE WATSONS. 



*^* See pages 4, 5, 6 and 7. 




Any of the above volumes can be obtained at all Book" 
sellers' or Railway Stations. Price 6s. 



mon: 

THE T^ 

t^t (^eai»mg of Jic^iom 




The So* 

by Miss 

^S'/ DEAN STANLEY. 

Full, ; 

W. '/"I have dwelt on this characteristic of the Gospel teaching — that of 

^'ipeaking in parables — because it is well that we should see how the Bible 

/,^ itself sanctions a mode of instruction which has been, in a special sense. 

y God's gift to our own age. His grace is manifold. In various ages it has 

assumed various forms : the divine flame of poetry, the far-reaching gaze 

of science, the searching analysis of philosophy, the glorious page of 

history, the burning eloquence of speaker or preacher, the grave address of 

moralist or divine. These all we have had in ages past ; their memorials 

are around us here. These all we have in their measure, some more, some 

less, in the age in which we live ; but it is, perhaps, not too much to say 

that in no age of the world and in no country of the world has been 

developed upon so large a scale, and with such striking effects as in our 

own, the gift of * speaking in parables,' the gift of addressing mankind in 

romance or tale or fable. 

" There was a truth — let us freely confess it— in the old Puritan feeling 
against an exaggerated enjoyment of romances, as tending to relax the fibre 
of the moral character. That was a wholesome restraint, which I re- 
member in my childhood, which kept us from revelling in tales of fancy 
till the day's work was over, and thus impressed upon us that the reading 
of pleasant fictions was the holiday of life and not its serious business. 
It is this very thing which, as it constitutes the danger of fictitious narra- 
tives, constitutes also their power. They approach us at times when we 
are indisposed to attend to anything else. They fill up those odd moments 
of life which, for good or for evil, exercise so wide an effect over the whole 
tenor of our course. Poetry may enkindle a loftier fire, the drama may 
rivet the attention more firmly, science may open a wider horizon, 
philosophy may touch a deeper spring ; but no works are so penetrating or 
so pervasive, none reach so many homes and attract so many readers as 
the romance of modern times. Those who read nothing else read eagerly 
the exciting tale. Those whom sermons never reach, whom history fails to 
arrest, are reached and arrested by the fictitious characters, the stirring 
plot, of the successful novelist. It is this which makes a good novel — 
pure in style, elevating in thought, true in sentiment — one of the best boons 
to the Christian home and to the Christian State. 

" vast responsibility of those who wield the mighty engine ! Mighty 
it may be, and has been, for corruption, for debasement, for defilement. 
Mighty also it may be, mighty it certainly has been, in our English novels 
(to the glory of our country be it spoken), mighty for edification and for 
purification, for giving wholesome thoughts, high aspirations, soul-stirring 
recollections. Use these wonderful works of genius as not abusing them, 
enjoy them as God's special gifts to us ; only remember that the true 
romance of life is life itself." — St. James's Gazette. 



THE READING OF FICT 



PROFESSOR HUXLEY. 

"Another point upon which he wished to lay some 
Next to earning one's living the most important thing was t 
fair and innocent means of amusement and distraction — to hav 
of retiring for a while from the cares of life, and transport one . 
another atmosphere where the weary soul might have time to rest. j:. 
ment people would have at any cost, and if they were not provided 
innocent forms of recreation, they would discover vicious ones. The uti. 
of free libraries had been questioned on the ground that they were usi 
chiefly for the perusal of works of fiction. Well, and why not ? He du 
not know any kind of rest comparable to putting up one's feet and going 
straight through a three-volume novel. After a man had done his eight or 
ten hours of work he did not want to study algebra. That, at least, was 
how the matter struck him." — Standard. 

SIR J. CRIGHTON BROWNE. 

"The profitable and hygienic uses of imagination are daily more and 
more widely realized, for in every country in Europe there is an increasing 
demand for what may be called imaginative aliments and stimulants in 
literary or other forms. The spreading of education has opened up a 
source of imaginative recreation to the masses, and they are not slow 
to take advantage of it; but education has also opened up to them other de- 
partments of literature, and the fact that they do not avail themselves 
of these to anj'thing like the same extent shows, I think, how keen the 
appetite for imaginative literature has become. 

" In the free libraries of Birmingham during the year 1888 there were 
issued to readers 347,334 works of pure fiction and 20,634 works of poetry 
and the drama, to say nothing of magazines in which fiction and poetry 
bulk most largely ; while in the same year there were issued just 18,214 
works on theology and philosophy, and 86,942 on arts, sciences, and natural 
history. In sober-minded Scotland, too, the thirst for imaginative litera- 
ture has become generally prevalent. When the most important circulat- 
ing library there was established fifty years ago, it was stated in the pro- 
spectus that novels were, with rare exceptions, to be excluded ; and now 
novels constitute 63 per cent, of the whole issue of that library. The vast 
extension of the habit of novel-reading amongst us is also demonstrated by 
an observation of journalistic literature. 

•' That the demand for cheap fiction will go on growing can scarcely be 
doubted, for the monotony of life, which the division of labour has so 
greatly aggravated, the aspirations which even a humble education serves to 
implant, and the increased mental friction which arises from the aggregation 
of masses of our people in large towns, all tend to whet the appetite for an 
imaginative diet. To us as medical men it is interesting to remark that 
this appetite is most urgent in spring, when nervous erithism exists, and 
' a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love,' and is least press 
ing in autumn, when the nervous system is comparatively quiescent. In 
the Birmingham leading libraries the issue of novels reaches its maximum 
in March — 32,796 were issued in that month last year — and touches its 
minimum in Aueust— 27,140 were issued in that month in 1888 — a differ- 
ence of 5,650 in favour of March." — The Timen. 



MONTHLY, ONE SHILLING. 



THE TEMPLE BAR MAGAZINE. 

The following Stories have appeared in the pages 
of this Magazine. 

The S'aven Sons of Mammon, by George Augustus Sala. — For Better, for Worse, 
by Miss Braddon.— Aurora Floyd, by Miss Braddon.— The Adventures of Captain 
Dangerous, by George Augustus Sala.— The Trials of the Tredgolds.— John March- 
mont's Legacy, by Miss Braddon.— Broken to Harness, by Edmund Yates.— Paid in 
Full, by H. J. Byron.— The Doctor's Wife, by l^iss Braddon. -David Chantrey, by 
W. G. Wills,— Sir Jasper's Tenant, by Miss Braddon— Land at Last, by Edmund 
Yates.— Archie Lovell, by Mrs. Annie Edwardes.— Lady Adelaide's Oath, by Mrs. Henry 
Wood.— A Lost Name, by J. Sheridan Le Fanu.— Steven Lawrence : Yeoman, by Mrs. 
Annie Edwardes. —Kitty , by M. E. Betham-Edwards.— Vera.— Red as a Rose is She, 
by Rhoda Broughton.— Susan Fielding, by Mrs. Annie Edwardes.— A Race for a Wife, 
by Hawley Smart.— The Bird Of Passage, by J. Sheridan Le Fanu.— His Brother's 
Keeper, by Albany de Fonblanque.— The Landlord Of the Sun, by W. Gilbert.--Good- 
hye. Sweetheart! by Rhoda Broughton.— Ought We to Visit Her? by Mrs. Annie 
Edwardes.— The Illustrious Dr. Mattheus, by MM. Erckmann-Chatrian.— The Wooing o't, 
by 'Mrs. Alexander.'— The Deceased Wife's Sister, by 'Sidney Mostyn.'— The New 
Magdalen, by Wilkie Collins.— Uncle John, by W. Whyte-Melville.— A Vagabond Heroine, 
by Mrs. Annie Edwardes.— My Beautiful Neighbour. —Leah : A Wom.an of Fashion, by 
Mrs Annie Edwardes.— Patricia Kemball, by Mrs. Lynn Linton.— Philip Leigh. -The 
Frozen Deep, by Wilkie Collins.— Bitter Fruit, by A. W. Dubourg.—Lilith.— Ralph Wilton's 
Weird, by 'Mrs. Alexander.'— The Dream Woman, by Wilkie Collins.— Basil's Faith, by 
A. W, Dubourg.— The American Senator, by Anthony TrollopjL— Her Dearest Foe, by 
'Mrs. Alexander.'— Vittoria Contarini, by A. W. Dubourg.— Vbe TWO Destinies, by 
Wilkie Collins.— An Old Man's Darling, by A. W. Dubourg.— jfcerry Ripe ! by Helen 
Mathers.— A Blue Stocking, by Mrs. Annie Edwardes.— The Owieal of Fay, by Mrs. 
Buxton.— The 'First Violin,' by Jessie Fothergill.— Two Handsome People, Two Jealous 
People, and a Ring, by Miss Lablache.— Jet, her Face or her Fortune, by Mrs. Annie 
Edwardes.— Auld Robin Gray, by Mrs. Godfrey.— Probation, by Jessie Fothergill.— 
Ebenezer, by C. G. Leland.— Vivian the Beauty, by Mrs. Annie Edwardes.— Oelia, by 
Mrs. Godtrey.— Adam and Eve, by Mrs. Parr.— The Portrait Of a Painter, by Himself, by 
Lady Pollock.— A Little Bohemian, by Mrs. Godfrey.— The Rebel Of the Family, by Mrs. 
Lynn Linton.— Kith and Kin, by Jessie Fothergill.— The Freres, by ' Mrs. Alexander.'— 
Marie Dumont, by Lady Pollock.— The Beautiful Miss Roche, by Mrs. Godfrey.— Wild 
Jack, by Lady Margaret Majendie. —Robin, by Mrs. Parr.— A Ball-room Repentance, 
by Mrs. Annie Edwardes. —Unspotted from the World, by Mrs. Godfrey.— Belinda, 
by Rhoda Broughton.— lone Stewart, by Mrs. Lynn Linton.— Uncle George's Will.— 
A Perilous Secret, by Charles Reade.— Mrs. Forrester's Secret, by Mrs. Godfrey.— 
Peril, by Jessie Fothergill.— Zero : A Story of Monte Carlo, by Mrs. Campbell Praed.— 
Mitre Court, by Mrs. Riddell.— A Girton Girl, by Mrs. Annie Edwardes.— A Bachelor's 
Blunder, by W. E. Norris.— Put Asunder, by Mrs. Godfrey.— Paston Carew, Miser and 
Millionaire, by Mrs. Lynn Linton.- Red Spider, by the Author of ' Mehalah,' etc.— 
The Danvers Jewels.— The Lady with the Carnations, by Marie Corel li.— Loyalty 
George, by Mrs. Parr.— From Moor Isles, by Jessie Fothergill.— The Rogue, by W. E. 
Norris.— A Chronicle of Two Months.— Paul's Sister, by Frances M. Peard.— Sir Charles 
Danvers, by the Author of ' The Danvers Jewels.'— Alas ! by Rhoda Broughton.— Pearl 
Powder, by Mrs. Annie Edwardes. — Mr. Chaine's Sons, by W. E. Norris. —Those 
Westerton Girls ! by Florence Warden.— Love or Money ? by* Katharine Lee (Mrs. 
Jenner).— La Bella, by Egerton Castle.— Letters Of a Worldly Woman, by Mrs. W. K. 
Clifford. -The Baron's Quarry, by Egerton Castle.— Mrs. Bligh, by Rhoda Broughton.— 
Aunt Anne, by Mrs. Clifford. — God'S Fool, by Maarten Maartens.— The Secret Of Wardale 
Court.— An Interloper, by Frances Mary Peard.— The Greater Glory, by Maarten Maartens. 
—The Cremation of Colonel Calverly, by Roger Ayscough.— The Beginner, by Rhoda 
Broughton.— Diana Tempest, by Mary Cholmondeley— Scylla or Charybdis, by Rhoda 
Broughton.— Lady Jean's Vagaries.— The Adventuress, by Mrs. Annie Edwardes.— The 
Madonna of a Day, by Lily Dougall.— Limitations, by E. F, Benson.— The Guests of the 
Wolfmaster, by Egerton Castle.— A Devotee, by Mary Cholmondeley. 



RICHARD BENTLEY & SON, New Burlington Street, London, 
IJuiliBhers in ©riiinatH to ^zx ^ajestK tlu (Siu«n. 



fiiv 



I 

i X J- 



•>i 



■;I5 



^ I: 



m 






mm 






■1> 






r 

:!^' j' 



iT^f 



iVJ